On March 13, 2021, underdog Georgetown, the 8-seed in the Big East Tournament, knocked off 2-seeded Creighton 73-48 to close out a shocking conference tournament run, winning four games in four days to clinch an NCAA Tournament berth.
What followed was an unprecedented 29 game Big East losing streak. The Hoyas lost every conference game in the 2021-22 regular season and started the 2022-23 season 0-9 in the Big East.
That all came to an end on Tuesday night. For the first time in 685 days, Georgetown won a Big East conference game, defeating DePaul 81-76.
“We have not stopped believing,” Georgetown Head Coach Patrick Ewing said following the emotional victory. “Sometimes you just need to pop the cork…We’re not just happy with this win.”
The first 20 minutes felt like a lot of Georgetown games; cagey. Neither DePaul nor Georgetown could get a firm hold on the game, leading to a 37-36 Blue Demons lead at the break.
A poor defensive display from both sides was complimented by a very impressive first half performance by DePaul’s Umoja Gibson, who scored 16 points without missing a shot in the first half. He finished with 24 on the night.
Throughout the 29 game losing streak, and particularly this season, the Hoyas have displayed an ineptness in the second half of games. In fact, coming into Tuesday, Georgetown had been outscored in the second half by an average of 10.6 points per game in Big East play.
That disappointing trend completely disappeared on Tuesday night.
The Hoyas opened up a 9 point lead in the opening minutes out of the locker room before DePaul closed the gap with a 12-2 run and reclaimed the lead with under ten minutes to play.
The Blue Demons spent much of the game in foul trouble, which finally came to a head down the stretch. DePaul lost Javan Johnson, Philmon Gebrewhit and Yor Anei in the final minutes, allowing Georgetown to seize control of the game.
From the time DePaul held a 58-57 lead, Georgetown stormed back, going on a 18-5 run to claim a 75-63 lead with under two minutes to play.
The Hoyas struggled at the line in the closing minutes, but a 12 point deficit was too much for DePaul to overcome as Georgetown finally ended its nearly two year conference losing streak.
Georgetown’s leading scorer throughout the year, Primo Spears, led the Hoyas in scoring once again with 21 points to go along with 6 assists and 4 rebounds. He played all 40 minutes.
“We’re always right there. We’ve been right there with UConn, Xavier, the best of them,” Spears said. “I feel like it’s hard because we know we’re capable and we know we have top-five talent in this league.”
Georgetown's Primo Spears faces off with DePaul's Umoja Gibson - Photo: Brad Mills/USA Today Sports
Sophomore guard Brandon Murray, who had missed three of Georgetown’s previous four games, finished with 12 points, scoring some of the Hoyas most crucial buckets to take control of the game down the stretch.
Perhaps the most impactful performance came from UConn transfer Akok Akok. The 6’10 junior scored 12 points, snagged 6 rebounds and had 4 blocks, all of which came in the second half.
“It was the same result every game,” Akok said after the win. “But Coach Ewing, he just kept emphasizing the message of staying in the fight, keep believing. Some of the points he made was having pride in wearing the Georgetown jersey.”
The Hoyas looked relieved, but unsatisfied following the victory. The team has been
close to a win so many times that maybe it was just surreal to finally be on the winning side for once.
“Finally, we got one,” Ewing said.
Might this Georgetown team just be scratching the surface of its potential? With no losing streak cloud hanging over their heads, perhaps we'll see this scrappy bunch begin to play more loose and free-flowing basketball.
Now, it’s just about playing ball.