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Georgetown Completes Comeback to Beat USF, 76-73

Govan’s 27 points lead the comeback effort and Akinjo comes up clutch again.

NCAA Basketball: Maryland - E. Shore at Georgetown Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgetown Hoyas (4-1, Big East) escaped Jamaica with a win with a double-digit second half comeback against the South Florida Bulls (3-1, American) on Sunday afternoon. Jessie Govan scored a season-high 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting, while James Akinjo provided clutch baskets down the stretch, including a game-tying three-pointer with four seconds remaining in regulation. David Collins paced USF with 21 points and 4-for-5 3-point shooting.

The Bulls started the game well, opening the game with a dunk by Alexis Yetna and a three-pointer by Tj Lang. They created several clean looks and did well to expose the Hoyas with quick ball movement. But Georgetown matched the Bulls stride for stride in the opening minutes, getting buckets from Jamorko Pickett, Govan and Mac McClung in the first four minutes. South Florida held a slim 7-6 lead at the first media timeout.

The Bulls’ early shooting success quickly shored up, however, as they missed their next 11 field goal attempts. Georgetown took advantage of strong bench play during this period, with Josh LeBlanc hitting a floater in the paint, Jahvon Blair drilling a three-pointer and Jagan Mosely converting a tough layup off of a well-executed give-and-go play with Govan. The Hoyas held a ten-point lead, their largest of the half, with 8:28 remaining.

Yetna finally remedied the Bulls’ shooting woes, making a layup with 5:58 remaining to cap their made field goal drought at just under nine minutes. The layup sparked the USF offense, and the Bulls utilized a 12-4 run to close the half to cut the deficit to just two points, 28-26, at the intermission.

The Hoyas opened the second half just as they did not Friday, committing several turnovers while struggling to find energy. They committed four turnovers in the opening four minutes and USF capitalized by going on a 17-4 run to open their largest lead of the game, 43-32, after a 3-pointer from Lang with 15:43 remaining. Govan scored nine of the Hoyas’ next 11 points, but the Bulls maintained their comfortable lead for several minutes thanks to balanced scoring, and they would lead by as many as nine with 8:43 to play.

From there, the Hoyas slowly clawed their way back into the game. Govan made it a three-point game after hitting a pair of jumpers before Michael Durr scored on a tip-in. Govan connected on a three-pointer with his team down five and just over two minutes remaining. Akinjo penetrated into the lane and found LeBlanc with a fantastic pass, and the latter scored a layup to cut the deficit to just one point. Then, Akinjo connected on a floater to give Georgetown its first lead in nearly 19 minutes of action. David Collins scored four straight points for USF, giving the Bulls a three-point lead with 13 seconds remaining.

Ewing called on Akinjo on the Hoyas’ last possession, as the freshman received the inbounds pass and was given an isolation opportunity on the perimeter. He dribbled to the top of the arc, hesitated, and drilled the game-tying three-pointer to force overtime.

Govan picked up where he left off by scoring on the Hoyas’ first possession, and they wouldn’t surrender the lead for the remainder of the game. Akinjo hit a layup to make it a two-possession game late, and Georgetown made its free throws to seal the comeback win.

Georgetown committed 15 turnovers in the game, with six coming from Akinjo. Ewing has started Akinjo and McClung in all five games this season. While the duo will certainly form a strong pairing as they develop, Hoya fans will likely have to deal with the struggles associated with youth, namely turnovers. Nonetheless, Akinjo’s late-game heroic have been on display twice this season, and McClung has shown the hard-knock mentality that Ewing said impressed him in preseason.

More concerning, however, are Jamorko Pickett’s recent struggles. He was held scoreless on Friday and didn’t score after recording the Hoyas’ first bucket today. The reigning Big East Freshman of the Year has only attempted two free throws on the season and is scoring six points per game compared to last season’s nine. Ewing has reiterated Pickett’s importance for the team, and he’ll look to get back on track in the coming weeks as the Hoyas play several sub-250 KenPom teams.

Georgetown will enjoy a week of rest before host ing Campbell (2-3, Big South) on Nov. 24 at noon.