FILE PHOTO: MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA Senior guard Jabril Trawick earned his first career double-double when he scored 11 points and notched 10 rebounds against Charlotte.
Senior guard Jabril Trawick earned his first career double-double when he scored 11 points and notched 10 rebounds against Charlotte.

Georgetown’s men’s basketball team (7-3) fought off a spirited late comeback attempt from Charlotte (6-5), earning a nail-biting 81-78 win at the Verizon Center on Saturday afternoon.

The Hoyas led by as much as 16 points in the second half, but Charlotte came within one point of Georgetown in the final nine seconds of the game.

Freshman forward L.J. Peak led a balanced Hoyas attack with 18 points. Junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 13 points, six rebounds and four assists and senior guard Jabril Trawick recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Senior center Joshua Smith and senior forward Aaron Bowen rounded out Georgetown’s double-figure scorers with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Charlotte freshman guard Keyshawn Woods led the 49ers’ upset bid, scoring 16 points in 34 minutes off the bench. Junior guard Braxton Ogbueze added 13 points, including multiple key baskets down the stretch.

The Hoyas seized control of the game in the early going, gaining an early 17-8 lead on a Trawick three-pointer. Georgetown was able to hold the 49ers at arm’s length for most of the remainder of the half, eventually extending their lead to 38-24 with a Smith-Rivera bucket. However, Charlotte mounted a late 7-0 run, cutting its deficit to 38-31 at the half.

The beginning of the second half was promising, as Georgetown continued to assert itself on offense. Charlotte was largely unable to stop the Hoyas from getting the shots that they were looking for, and as a result the Georgetown lead ballooned to 60-44 on two Bowen free throws with 12:44 left in the game.

However, the momentum quickly turned as Charlotte mounted a furious comeback. The Hoyas’ offense stagnated against their Conference USA opponent’s 2-3 zone defense, allowing the 49ers to score some easy transition baskets. In addition, Georgetown’s defensive rotations were sloppy, particularly on the perimeter, as Charlotte’s guards were repeatedly left open for three pointers.

“We let them get some wide open shots. We need to be there on three-point shots, so that’s what we’re going to work on,” Trawick said after the game.

The 49ers gradually chipped away at their deficit until an Ogbueze three-pointer brought them to within two points of the Hoyas, 77-75, with just over three minutes remaining. After an empty Georgetown possession, Smith-Rivera was charged with his fifth foul, disqualifying him from the game and leaving the Hoyas without their point guard and veteran leader. Charlotte’s junior center Mike Thorne Jr. converted one of his two free throw attempts, shrinking the lead to one point.

After another fruitless possession, Trawick drove the lane as the shot clock wound down, only to have his shot blocked. On the next possession, another sloppy defensive rotation left Ogbueze wide open for a potential go-ahead three pointer, but his shot was off-target.

Clinging to its one point lead with 57 seconds left in regulation, Georgetown fed the ball to Smith in the low post. Charlotte quickly double-teamed him, stripping the ball away from Smith. Fortunately for the Hoyas, Bowen was able to retrieve the loose ball and was fouled on his ensuing layup attempt. Bowen converted both of his foul shots, giving the Hoyas a 79-76 lead with 25 seconds to play.

After Woods made a driving layup to bring his team back to within one point with nine seconds on the clock, Peak received an inbounds pass and appeared to travel before drawing an intentional foul. The violation went uncalled, and Peak made both of his foul shots. Woods’ final three-point attempt fell short and the Hoyas escaped with a heart-stopping win.

Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III was not pleased with his team’s defensive performance.

“Our goal was to not let them get threes, and they got threes,” Thompson said. “Our defensive execution was not what it needs to be.”

While Georgetown’s defense suffered in certain parts of the game, Charlotte’s resilient, feisty performance was also a factor in its near upset of Georgetown. The 49ers were not intimidated by their higher-profile opponent and refused to give in even when the Hoyas’ lead appeared insurmountable.

“I’m very proud of our guys for not giving up. Being down 16, a lot of people would have cashed it in and that 16 becomes 30, which has happened here a lot, and so I’m proud of the guys for banding together to keep on fighting, to give ourselves a chance at the end,” Charlotte Head Coach Alan Major said.

Despite Georgetown’s shaky defense, the team saw positive signs from its players in its last home game of the season. Georgetown received balanced offensive contributions from many of its key players. In addition, the Hoyas made 14 of its 15 second-half free throws, including a four shots in the final minute, helping them hold off the upset bid.

The team will have the opportunity to fine tune its defensive mishaps from the Charlotte game in advance of its next game against Indiana, which is slated for a noon tipoff on Dec. 27 at Madison Square Garden.

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