The Georgetown men’s basketball team (1-3) was one game-winning three-point shot by sophomore forward Isaac Copeland away from defeating the fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils (4-1), but fell just short, losing by a score of 86-84 in the championship game of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Copeland led the team with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting and also pulled down six rebounds.
“It was just a war. Certainly a game befitting a championship game. … Certainly the game could have gone either way,” Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team pulled away from the Hoyas in the second half and withstood multiple Hoya rallies, said after the game.
Duke sophomore guard Grayson Allen, who burst onto the scene last year during Duke’s national championship run in the NCAA tournament, was the difference for Duke, scoring 32 points on 9-of-12 shooting, to go along with four assists and five rebounds. Allen scored 16 points in the second half and made 3-of-4 three-point attempts. The Hoyas had no answer for the sharpshooting guard, as sophomore guard L.J. Peak and freshman guard/forward Kaleb Johnson both took turns attempting to slow him down.
“He’s very athletic and very aggressive. He played all 40 minutes aggressive. He’s always attacking on offense so having him come at you every play is pretty difficult,” Copeland said.
“Grayson kept us in the ball game. … He had a spectacular performance. To score 32 points is one thing but to do it on 12 shots is incredible, absolutely incredible,” Krzyzewski said.
Besides Allen, Duke had two other players in double-digits for scoring. The Blue Devils shot 48.1 percent from the field, compared to the Hoyas’ 54.9 percent shooting from the field. Besides Copeland, senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 14 points, Peak had 13 points and Johnson scored a career-high 14 points.
“Overall, I thought Kaleb was pretty good today. As with the other freshmen, he’s getting settled. But he’s a competitor who embraces playing all facets of the game,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said.
Georgetown got off to a strong start at the beginning of the game, staying level with Duke and then pulling away slightly thanks to the play of Copeland and Smith-Rivera. Senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes picked up two quick fouls at the 16:30 mark and did not come back into the game for the rest of the half. The Hoyas maintained a slim lead over the Blue Devils, with Copeland stretching the lead to six on a three-pointer which made it 22-16.
Sophomore forward Trey Mourning gave the Hoyas some valuable minutes midway through the first half after freshman center Jessie Govan picked up his second foul. Mourning had four points, one rebound and one assist, but filled in adequately for Hayes and Govan, who both sat out the rest of the first half with two fouls apiece.
Duke came alive late in the first half, as freshman forward/center Chase Jeter hit the layup and drew a foul on Mourning to head to the free throw line. After a three-pointer by Allen cut the lead to 39-35, Peak turned the ball over on the other end, which led to a Jeter put-back dunk off a missed Allen layup on the fast break.
“They have some very good players who make plays,” Thompson said.
The Blue Devils took the lead back on a three-pointer by junior guard Matt Jones, which brought the score to 40-39 Duke. As the teams traded baskets in the last minute, Johnson dribbled the ball up and hit a smooth half-court shot a foot past the midcourt line to make it 47-42 Georgetown heading into halftime.
Duke stepped on the gas in the second half, taking the lead for good at the 16:56 mark after Allen was fouled by Peak while shooting a three-pointer. Duke’s lead stretched to 63-54 after a layup by senior forward Amile Jefferson.
“The whole game, both teams were answering [each other]. It was just that stretch that we didn’t answer,” Thompson said.
The Hoyas struck up a rally soon after, with Johnson and Govan coming up big on both ends. A no-look pass from junior forward Reggie Cameron to a cutting Johnson under the basket made the score 68-67. Duke was able to regain a seven-point lead, but Georgetown made one last run at the Blue Devils at the end of the game.
Copeland hit a three-pointer with 22 seconds left to make it 84-81, and hit another three-point shot after Duke freshman point guard Derryck Thornton made two free throws. After Copeland’s second three, Georgetown fouled Thornton again, who missed both free throws. However, the Hoyas were out of timeouts, so Copeland had to dribble the length of the court with five seconds remaining on the clock, and was only able to put up a long shot attempt from beyond the arc that hit the front rim and bounced away harmlessly.
“I had hit two shots before that so I was very confident. I got to a spot that I wanted to get to, saw the clock going down, and I shot it; it was a little short,” Copeland said.
Krzyzewski was very complimentary of Copeland and the team after the game, calling him a “rising star,” and said that this young team of Hoyas will only get better as the season progresses.
Now with an overall record of 1-3, Georgetown has a lot of catching up to do in order to make up for some tough early-season losses. Georgetown’s next game is at home against Bryant (2-2) on Nov. 28, and tipoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.
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