In an all too familiar situation, the Georgetown Hoyas (1-3) took the defending national champions and the No. 5 team in the nation, the Duke Blue Devils (3-1), to the final minute, only to come up short in the final seconds.
Fresh off their first win of the season against the Wisconsin Badgers (2-2, 0-0 Big Ten), the Hoyas came out ready to take on one of the toughest teams in the nation. In the first half, the Hoyas were able to match the Blue Devils’ strong offense, which was led by sophomore guard Grayson Allen, who scored 16 of his 32 points in the first half.
The Hoyas had their largest lead of the game in the first half when they were up 35-27 with 4:11 left in the half. Freshman guard/forward Kaleb Johnson closed out the first half by sinking a desperation half-court shot to give the Hoyas a 47-42 lead. The Hoyas finished the first half strong, shooting 57 percent from the field, compared to the Blue Devils’ 50 percent.
The second half was a different story and was a half of runs. Senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes started the scoring in the second half to extend the lead to 49-42. But Duke quickly responded with an 8-0 run to give it a one-point lead. Sophomore guard L.J. Peak hit three free throws to put Georgetown back in the lead, but Duke then went on a 10-0 run, giving it its largest lead at the time, 63-54 with 13:45 remaining.
Johnson finally ended the Hoyas’ prolonged scoring drought with an easy layup, pushing them onto a 7-0 run, pulling Georgetown to within three at 64-61 with 9:28 left. After a quick Blue Devil two-pointer, junior forward Reggie Cameron nailed an NBA-range three-pointer to make it a two-point deficit for the Hoyas.
As the game wound down to the final five minutes of play, senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who finished with 14 points, hit a floater at the 4:30 mark to pull the Hoyas with one. Once again, however, the Hoyas’ inability to box out and get defensive rebounds plagued them in the second half, allowing the Blue Devils to take advantage of second chances.
The final minute of play featured a series of exciting events. Duke lead 79-72 entering the final minute of play, but Georgetown slowly began to chip away at the lead. Sophomore guard L.J. Peak converted on a hard drive and drew a foul, but then failed to complete the three-point play.
When Georgetown began to intentionally foul to stop the clock, Duke was able to convert on most of its free throws in the last minute. But with time winding down, sophomore forward Isaac Copeland took charge of the Georgetown offense, draining two three-pointers in a span of 15 seconds to decrease Duke’s lead to two points with 5.4 seconds left.
Georgetown then intentionally fouled and sent Duke freshman guard Derryck Thornton to the line. Following a timeout called by Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III, Thornton missed his second free throw, which led to the most important play of the game. With 5.4 seconds left, Copeland, who finished 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, tried to replicate Johnson’s first-half buzzer-beater with one of his own, but the shot came up short, putting an end to the possible upset. Copeland led all Georgetown scorers with 21 points.