WASHINGTON, DC (December 9, 2017) – Georgetown rebuffed every way North Carolina A&T tried to score in the first eight minutes of Saturday afternoon’s men’s basketball game at Capital One Arena. By the time junior guard Milik Gantz figured it out for the Aggies, the Hoyas were well on their way to an 83-74 win.
The Hoyas improved to 8-0 by playing and beating their third straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponent after December wins over Coppin State and Howard. The Aggies, who missed their first 14 shots from the floor Saturday, dropped their third straight game and fell to 5-4.
Associate head coach Jack Agostino, who coached the Aggies on Saturday while head coach Jay Joyner recovers from knee surgery, said the Hoyas height played a major factor early in the game. N.C. A&T’s biggest nemesis was Hoyas 6-foot-10 center Jessie Govan who finished with a game-high 22 points and 15 rebounds.
“It was very hard to score inside,” said Agostino. “That’s way we were down 14-0. We were dreading taking it to the basket, we couldn’t post, they were altering our shots, there was nothing working for us. They forced us to the perimeter and our game is inside, out.”
N.C. A&T finally found something that would work and it was a player that has played only 17 minutes over the past five games. Gantz scored the Aggies first two points on free throws with 11:44 remaining in the first half. He then drove to the basket and dumped off a no-look pass to senior forward Davaris McGowens for the Aggies first field goal of the game with 10:52 to go in the first 20-minute half.
Gantz went on to score the Aggies next two baskets, the latter a transition layup that put the Aggies down 20-8 at the 9:35 mark. Gantz’s dribble penetration and aggression to the basket appeared to lay the blueprint for the Aggies offensively against the taller Hoyas as the Aggies had an easier time scoring after their early drought.
“Sometimes all a guy needs is an opportunity,” said Agostino about Gantz who finished with a team-high and career-high 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting. Gantz also had three assists and no turnovers.
“Milik has been through a lot of adversity,” Agostino continued. “We have a lot of guards, so he's battling and battling in practice every day for his opportunity. He never complains, never whines, so it was nice to see him get his opportunity and take advantage of it.”
N.C. A&T got the Georgetown lead down to eight, 23-15, on a layup from junior forward Femi Olujobi with 6:36 to play in the first half. But the Hoyas went on a 7-0 run to push the lead out to 15 before taking a 37-26 halftime lead. Govan helped the Hoyas grow their lead in the second half as took a pass in the post from Jagan Mosley and scored to give the Hoyas their biggest lead at the time, 46-30 four minutes into the second half. The Aggies turned to Gantz again, however.
He scored four points and got a 3-pointer from junior guard Aaren Edmead during a 7-0 run that chopped the Hoyas lead to nine. After a Georgetown free throw, Gantz sliced his way into the paint again for two more points to get the Aggies to within eight, 47-39 with 13:08 to play. The Aggies never got any closer. The Hoyas responded with six straight points and eventually grew their lead to as many as 17 with 7 ½ minutes to play.
Agostino last coached a high school game in 2014. He only found on Thursday that he would be coaching a game that included former New York Knicks star and current Hoya head coach Patrick Ewing. He only found out Saturday that Hall of Fame coach John Thompson, the former Hoya head coach, would be in attendance.
“I've coached any many games, but there is nothing bigger and more special than coaching in this great arena with Patrick Ewing on the other side and John Thompson sitting just off the court,” Agostino said. “I really have to give all the credit to Jay Joyner for bringing me on board because to think about where I was last year to where I was today, it's truly a blessing.”
Olujobi added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Aggies who will return home after a month when they face Tennessee State 6 p.m., Friday, December 15 at Corbett Sports Center.