Washington — Tuesday night was a reminder of the sizable gap between the UMBC men’s basketball team and its bigger Division I brethren.
Because of dismissals and transfers, Georgetown fielded a roster that included only seven scholarship players. But that was more than enough for the host Hoyas to sail past the outmatched Retrievers, 81-55, at Capital One Arena.
“In games like that, you have to kind of take the good with the bad,” coach Ryan Odom said. “I think there are going to be some moments where we’ll be able to show our players, ‘Hey, this is how it should look. This is how we want our team to look on this play. The ball was moving, we dropped it off, and a guy gets a layup.’ … But those plays were few and far between. I think they’re really good.”
Sophomore guard L.J. Owens paced UMBC with 16 points and four rebounds, and senior guard K.J. Jackson chipped in 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. But the team lost for the fourth time in its last five games, and the setback was the program’s second worst of the season, trailing a 27-point loss at LSU on Nov. 19.
Georgetown has now won four consecutive games despite being short-handed since sophomore point guard James Akinjo, sophomore forward Josh LeBlanc, junior forward Galen Alexander and freshman forward Myron Gardner elected to transfer.
LeBlanc, Alexander and Gardner had been accused of burglary and harassment, but The Washington Post reported Monday night that D.C. police had closed two investigations without making any arrests. Akinjo, the Big East Rookie of the Year, had no involvement in the off-court incidents, but decided to leave the program anyway.
But the Hoyas still have plenty left in the cupboard. The Retrievers had few answers for limiting the trio of 7-foot, 264-pound senior center Omer Yurtseven, 6-foot-8, 206-pound guard/forward Jamorko Pickett and 6-11, 237-pound freshman center Qudus Wahab.
Yurtseven led all scorers with 22 points on 11-for-14 shooting, collected a game-high 13 rebounds, and blocked three shots. He had a double-double in the first half with 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting and 10 rebounds, including four offensive boards.
Pickett finished with 12 points and three rebounds before injuring his left calf and sitting out the remaining 11:52, and Wahab had 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, probably altering a few more.
“I think my guys have definitely stepped up with all of the distractions,” Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing said. “They have been resilient. They have been concentrating on what they need to concentrate on, they’ve been doing their schoolwork, and they’ve been playing extremely well.”
UMBC ran a junior forward rotation of 6-9, 215-pound Daniel Akin, 6-10, 200-pound Brandon Horvath (Southern) and 6-8, 240-pound Dimitrije Spasojevic at the Georgetown trio, but with only sporadic success. Odom said the Hoyas’ strategy of running the offense through Yurtseven paid off to the tune of 44 points in the paint compared to the Retrievers’ 24.
“He’s a load down there,” Odom said. “He’s really skilled. Doesn’t matter how far you push him away from the basket. He’s still got the ability to score around there. They’re tough on the offensive glass. They’re playing good ball together on the offensive end, and they’re digging in on defense end, too. They made it hard for us in the beginning of the game to get off clean looks.”
Georgetown sprinted out of the gates, scoring the game’s first 14 points. UMBC did not get its first points until seven full minutes elapsed before Jackson splashed a 3-pointer from the left elbow.
The closest the Retrievers got to the Hoyas was nine points on back-to-back baskets by Owens. The Annapolis resident and Severn graduate drained a 3-pointer to narrow the score to 16-7 with 11:13 left in the first half. And then after Yurtseven sank a hook shot, Owens converted a layup to make it 18-9 at the 10:41 mark.
Georgetown responded with a 10-0 run to inflate its advantage to 19 points and eventually entered the locker room at halftime with a 42-24 cushion.
The announced crowd of 4,088 was at its loudest at the 14:34 mark of the second half. That’s when 6-2, 186-pound sophomore guard Mac McClung drove past Jackson along the baseline and rose for a reverse dunk.
Notes: UMBC played without senior forward Max Curran, who had started the three previous games. Senior forward Arkel Lamar and junior guard Darnell Rogers missed their sixth consecutive games. … Tuesday night’s game was only the third all-time meeting between the programs and the first since March 21, 2008 when Georgetown defeated the Retrievers, 66-47, in an NCAA tournament first-round game. The Hoyas lead the series, 3-0. … George Muresan, a 6-9, 218-pound walk-on senior forward and the son of former Washington Wizards center Gheorghe Muresan, went 0-of-2 from the floor and grabbed one rebound in eight minutes of play. … The 55 points surrendered by Georgetown were the fewest this season.
Saturday, 4 p.m.