What appeared to be an easy nonconference win against a small-conference opponent in North Carolina-Wilmington (5-1) wound up being a tense nail-biter. The Georgetown men’s basketball team (6-3) escaped with an 87-82 win after leading by as many as 25 points.
After getting off to a slow start, the Hoyas found their groove and took the lead for good with 13 minutes to go in the first half. Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and co-captain carried the team offensively throughout the game, going on a personal 10-0 run early on to give his team the lead. Smith-Rivera finished with a game-high 27 points on 6-of-11 shooting and was 3-of-5 from three-point range.
Similar to the last few games, in which the Hoyas got out to big leads in the second half and then allowed their opponents back in the game, Georgetown was up by 25 points midway through the first half. With eight minutes left in the half, UNC-Wilmington staged a furious 19-3 run to get back into the game. Behind 11 second-half points from sophomore guard Jordon Talley and 13 second-half points from redshirt junior guard Chris Flemmings, the Seahawks cut the deficit to a mere three points with 50 seconds to go in the game. Talley hit a three-point shot over Smith-Rivera to cut it to 81-77 and Flemmings made it a three-point game after making one of two free throws.
“They brought the energy to us. I feel like their aggression on defense, they started to get a feel for us once we [committed] a few turnovers,” Smith-Rivera said.
Sophomore guard L.J. Peak brought the lead back up to five with a ferocious dunk right through the middle of the Seahawks defense, but then fouled Talley on the other end of the floor while the guard was shooting a three.
Talley wound up making two of three free throws after the foul and made it 83-80 with 18 seconds left.
“It just felt like we started playing our basketball,” Talley said. “We went out there and left it on the line and competed on both ends.”
Smith-Rivera beat the Seahawks’ full-court press off the inbounds pass and made it 85-80 with two free throws. With the score 87-82 after two free throws from Georgetown sophomore guard Tre Campbell, Flemmings fumbled away the inbounds pass and Campbell recovered it and ran out the clock.
“I thought it was a tale of two different halves. You have to give Georgetown credit. … I thought in the first half we didn’t do a great job with guarding the three-point line. … In the second half we were able to score some baskets so we were able to get into our press,” UNC-Wilmington Head Coach Kevin Keatts said.
It was another close call, but the Hoyas knocked off the undefeated Seahawks and moved their own win streak to five games.
Georgetown freshman forward Marcus Derrickson scored 15 points for the Hoyas, all off three-pointers, going 5-of-7 from three-point range.
“Marcus can shoot; if you leave him open, it’s going to go in,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said.
Senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes had a well-rounded game, scoring eight points, grabbing six rebounds and notching three assists and three blocks.
Georgetown will face Monmouth (5-3) Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Verizon Center, looking to move to 7-3 on the season.
“I think we are progressing, but we also understand and know that we have a long way to go and a long way we can go,” Thompson said. “We know we have to get better.”
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