Patrick Ewing had just watched Mac McClung bank in a buzzer-beating three-pointer from well beyond the top of the key to send the game into overtime, witnessed a similarly heroic three from James Akinjo to force a second extra period and seen a career-best performance from Jessie Govan.
After all the drama of Georgetown’s 96-90 double-overtime victory over Providence, Ewing needed to loosen his tie.
There were just seconds left in Saturday’s game when the second-year coach slid the dark blue necktie through his collar and into his hands, folded it in half twice and then chucked it toward the end of the bench at Capital One Arena — with what felt like a huge sigh of relief.
Not only had Ewing’s Hoyas finally pulled out a close win after losing two Big East games in heartbreaking fashion, but Georgetown also notched its first win against Coach Ed Cooley’s Friars since 2014. The Hoyas’ win in front of 10,113 boisterous fans was their first victory over Providence in nine tries.
Ewing was still breathing heavily when he arrived at his news conference 15 minutes after the final buzzer.
“I can’t worry about what happened in the past,” Ewing said. “All I know is it was a great win to get, and we had to go into double-overtime to be able to come away with it, and I’m proud of the guys.”
Georgetown’s win follows a three-point overtime loss at home against St. John’s a week ago and an 81-75 loss at Xavier in which the Hoyas surrendered a 17-point lead in the first half. On Saturday, the victory required a full team effort — and provided Ewing a buffet of praiseworthy performances.
Govan led the Hoyas with a career-high 33 points in addition to 14 rebounds and four blocks after a slow first half. Freshman point guard Akinjo had 20 points — including the three-pointer to force a second overtime — and nine assists. Jamorko Pickett impressed with the best defense he’s played all season against Providence’s Alpha Diallo (24 points), one of the top scorers in the Big East.
Even the team’s second unit, led by freshman Grayson Carter, earned a shout-out from Ewing for digging the Hoyas out of an 11-0 hole in the first half.
But it was McClung who stood out perhaps most of all.
In the first Big East game of the freshman guard’s career after he missed Georgetown’s previous four games with an ankle injury, the viral sensation from Gate City, Va., fired up a 30-footer at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime. He took an inbounds pass with 3.9 seconds remaining, found some space past the midcourt line and let fly.
“Coach drew it up, and I caught the ball — I looked back, Jessie was wide open, maybe should have hit him, but I shot it with confidence,” said McClung, who finished with 16 points in 27 minutes in his first game back since the injury. “Coach always says he loves that in a player, confidence, belief in himself, and that’s what I feel about myself.”
The final minutes of regulation — featuring clutch shots, excellent defense and boneheaded moves on offense almost in equal parts — were a neat representation of the entire game.
With 2:38 to play, Govan hit a three-pointer to get Georgetown within two points of a lead they had spent almost the entire game chasing. Pickett, defending Diallo, then forced a shot clock violation to give the Hoyas a chance to tie.
Pickett lost control of the ball on the other end with a bad bounce pass to Govan, but Greg Malinowski made up for it with two free throws.
On Providence’s next possession, Pickett’s defense on Diallo held again, and the sophomore pulled down a big offensive rebound on the other end to get Govan the ball for a two-handed dunk. Diallo then got free for a three-pointer.
With 10 seconds left and his team trailing by one, Akinjo bucked his coach’s play call, shot a three himself and missed.
“I got mad at James at the end of regulation,” Ewing said, “but he made up for it in overtime, both overtimes. … Freshmen are going to be freshmen, and they’re growing up. They’re growing up.”
Cooley called back-to-back timeouts, but his team didn’t foul McClung when it had the chance to at the end of regulation, and his three-pointer sent fans in Capital One Arena to their feet.
Akinjo’s three-pointer with three seconds left in overtime sent the game into another extra period, and the Hoyas controlled for the final four minutes, during which Providence made just two free throws.
“They made winning plays at the end and we didn’t, offensively,” Cooley said.
Providence’s Nate Watson (21 points), Drew Edwards (19) and Isaiah Jackson (13) joined Diallo in double figures.
Georgetown edged the Friars in rebounds, 50-45, and points in the paint, 40-38. Many of those inside points came from Govan, who scored 24 of his 33 after the first half.
“I’m tired of seeing his [butt],” Cooley joked afterward about Govan.
The senior center got his first career victory over Providence and secured some momentum for his team as it turns to face No. 21 Marquette at home Tuesday.
“It feels good. Me personally, it’s my first win over Providence, so that was definitely something that I was looking forward to. Mac is now undefeated against Providence, so that’s cool,” Govan said with a smile. “… Even when we were down three in both overtimes, guys were able to step up and hit shots. So I think that showed a lot about our team and about our heart.”
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