Georgetown University put together a Cinderella run during the 2021 Big East tournament that captured the hearts and minds of the DMV.
It had been six years since the Hoyas punched a ticket into the Big Dance, but head coach Patrick Ewing led a youthful and talent-rich squad to the first round of the NCAA tournament against No. 5 Colorado on March 20 in Indianapolis.
Despite riding on a four-game win streak during the Big East tourney, Georgetown couldn’t survive and advance, falling to the Buffaloes, 96-73.
“Disappointed with the outcome,” Ewing said. “We’ve had a very good run, we picked the first game of the NCAA tournament not to play our best game, and I’m very disappointed about that.”
Ewing opted to have leading scorer Jahvon Blair come off the bench to start this one, with Georgetown boasting a 5-1 record when the junior guard came off the pine to produce this season.
However, the Hoyas could have utilized his services as Colorado jumped out to a 10-0 run early on during the contest, holding Georgetown scoreless from the field for more than six minutes.
The Hoyas were ice cold from range and couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half, shooting a putrid 30.8 percent from the floor.
Colorado extended its lead to 13 points, with 8:24 remaining after forward Jabari Walker knocked down a corner 3-pointer. He poured in 14 points during the first half.
The Hoyas struggled to switch defensively against Colorado shooters on the perimeter, allowing wide-open looks that the Buffaloes capitalized on, leading to Colorado converting on more shots from beyond the arc (11) than Georgetown had field goals by halftime.
“We didn’t defend the three well,” said Upper Marlboro native and Georgetown guard Donald Carey who scored 17 points in the loss. “We didn’t execute on the defensive end guarding the three-point line.”
Georgetown trailed by double-digits going into the second half after Colorado went on a 24-0 run and could not withstand the offensive onslaught the rest of the way as Colorado cruised to victory as Georgetown only attained the lead once on the game’s opening basket.
Colorado stretched its largest lead of the game to 32 in the second half, mainly due to Walker’s contagious shooting stroke that prompted his team to hit 64 percent from beyond the arc.
“Everybody had us losing this game,” Walker said. “Tonight, we had several guys get hot. We are a dangerous team, and a lot of teams can’t run with us.
“I just found myself getting wide open. I was a little confused … maybe that was a part of the scouting report. It is my job to knock them down, and I’ve been able to do a good job at that.”
The son of former NBA first-round pick Samaki Walker had a game-high 24 points, going 5-of-5 from long distance and only missed one field goal.
Big East tournament MVP and freshman point guard Dante Harris was held in check, scoring only seven points, while center Qudus Wahab led the way with 20 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
It was a memorable run for Georgetown, but Colorado made the most of its opportunity. Despite the early exit, Ewing is optimistic about what his team can accomplish moving forward next season and made a bold prediction.
“I think our book is still being written,” said Ewing. “We have accomplished a lot this year. A lot of people didn’t think we were going to be here … our future is bright, we still have a lot of work that we have to do, but I believe in my team, I believe in my university, and I think we’ll be back next year.”