Pirates pull off a comeback after a break
A bye week for the men’s basketball team did the trick as the Pirates snapped a three-game losing streak with an impressive 82-67 victory over the Georgetown Hoyas on Thursday night.
The Pirates (14-12, 5-8 Big East) offense got going quickly, as senior swingman Fuquan Edwin scored the first four points of the game. Edwin finished with 21 points on 9-13 shooting, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
Georgetown (15-11, 6-8 Big East), which never led or tied the game after Edwin’s first bucket, committed 6 first-half turnovers which resulted in a nine-point lead for The Hall entering halftime.
After the break, the Hoyas responded with a 6-0 run in the first three minutes of the second half to cut the deficit to just three.
Sophomore point guard Sterling Gibbs then began attacking the basket, as he’s done all season, scoring six of the next eight Pirate points to bring the lead back up to 11.
“We didn’t want this one to slip away from us,” Gibbs said. “We haven’t really finished our games the way we wanted to the past couple games. We wanted to make sure we responded to their run. I just wanted to be aggressive and attack the basket.”
Gibbs finished with 18 points, 7 assists and 2 steals off the bench. Freshman Jaren Sina, who got the nod at point guard, finished with 10 points and 4 assists. Both point guards combined for 11 assists and only 1 turnover.
“Both of them (Gibbs and Sina) were going to have to play 28 to 32 minutes, so it doesn’t matter who starts,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “I just wanted to give Jaren a chance to get his nerves out in the warm-up line rather than four minutes into the game.”
The two point guards set the tone offensively in terms of ball movement, as the Pirates assisted on 20 of 27 total field goals.
As a team, The Hall shot 55.1 percent from the floor, including 47.1 percent from beyond the arc.
The win completed a season sweep of the Hoyas for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.
It was quite a turnaround for The Hall after a 1-point loss to St. John’s a week ago. Before the game, Willard suspend seniors Brian Oliver and Eugene Teague for a lack of effort in practice. After the game Willard said that the seniors had set the tone in practice all week.
“I thought my seniors had a great attitude all week,” he said. “Eugene (Teague) and Brian (Oliver) came back from their suspension terrific, with great attitudes. They did what I expected them to do. Fuquan (Edwin) has always been good. Aaron Geramipoor has been looking good. The four of them led practice and set the tone in a really positive way.”
Teague scored 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, while Oliver hit just one 3-pointer. Geramipoor, who started at center, scored 6 points on 3-3 shooting.
The win gave some of the Pirates in the locker room confidence heading into the final five games of the season, perhaps none more so than Gibbs.
“We can easily be a dangerous team if we can stay together and limit our injuries, but at the same time we know we can play with the best of the teams,” Gibbs said. “We have to have that confidence and that swagger and bring it into every game.”
Edwin said that he’s looking forward to getting another shot at Creighton on Sunday, but said that if the team plays how they did on Thursday, the Pirates can play with any team in the country.
Willard said that he gave the team a simple message after the game.
“When we have a great attitude, we focus on what we need to focus on, and we share the basketball. We are a very good team,” he said.
The Pirates will look to build on their momentum as they make their first ever trip to Omaha, Neb. on Sunday to take on the No. 11 Creighton Bluejays.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org.