So much for a breezy Saturday afternoon.
Georgetown let most of a 25-point lead slip away, coming unglued over the final eight minutes before finishing off North Carolina-Wilmington 87-82 at Verizon Center.
The Hoyas (6-3) turned a 38-28 halftime lead into a 73-48 blowout with 8:14 remaining in the annual BB&T Classic. Postgame topics figured to focus on D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera's latest high-scoring performance or freshman Marcus Derrickson's five 3-pointers or Georgetown taking full advantage of its lengthy homestand with its fifth straight win. Maybe, maybe there might even be a question about pile driving an opponent with professional wrestling legend Bret "The Hitman" Hart sitting a few rows behind the home bench.
Yet instead of putting the Seahawks (5-1) into a submission hold, the Hoyas went into dazed and confused mode. Ten of Georgetown's 16 turnovers came in the second half with many occurring during UNCW's 18-3 run and against full court pressure. Several rushed offensive possessions with the clock in their favor also hurt.
"I think our decisions offensively and defensively were not good," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "We didn’t think the game well today, during the latter part of it.
The comfortable 78-59 lead turned into tiny 81-78 edge with 50 seconds remaining after Chris Flemmings hit one of two free throws for the Seahawks, who entered the day one of 10 Division 1 programs still undefeated.
Coming out of a timeout, Georgetown designed a play for L.J. Peak and the athletic wing guard drove the lane for a dunk, giving the Hoyas a 83-78 lead. However, Peak was whistled for a questionable foul as UNCW's Jordan Talley attempted a 3-pointer. Talley made two of three shots, which Smith-Rivera countered from the free throw line. The Seahawks again pulled within three points after hitting a jumper with 10 seconds left. Two free throws from Georgetown guard Tre Campbell with four seconds left sealed the win.
Smith-Rivera finished with 27 points and Derrickson had 15.
"They brought the energy to us," Smith-Rivera said. "I feel like their aggression on defense, they started to get a feel for us once we got a few turnovers. They got a couple open looks. I think the first half, we were being the aggressor, defensively especially, and we were making shots."
Derrickson unintentionally paid homage to Hart's signature. Playing the sharpshooter role, the freshman forward made 5 of 7 from beyond the arc, his only shot attempts overall in Georgetown's first-ever meeting with the Seahawks.
Flemmings had 16 points for the Seahawks in their first game since Dec. 2. Forwards Marcus Bryan and Dylan Sherwood each had 14 points. UNCW finished tied for first place in the Colonial Athletic Conference last season.
Georgetown continues the homestand against Monmouth Tuesday. The Hawks (5-3) already own wins over UCLA, Notre Dame and USC.
Despite the late game follies, Thompson hopes his squad can continue improving.
"I think we are progressing, but we also understand and know that we have a long way to go and a long way we can go," he said. "We want to continue incrementally improve. That being said, winning can mask your flaws, winning can mask your deficiencies, but I don’t think that’s happening with this group. I think there is a lot of introspection and film watching and understanding where we have to improve. We know we have to get better."
• Senior center Bradley Hayes scored eight points, ending his run games in a row with double figure points at four.
• Georgetown held UNCW to 36.9 shooting from the field and 24.1 in the first half. The Seahawks' late push pushed up the percentage. They sank 5 of 9 3-pointers in the second half.
• Opponents shot 37.3 percent (31 of 83) from beyond the arc against Georgetown during the first four games, but only (19 of 87) in the next four before Saturday's game.
• The Hoyas' assists to turnover ratio remains unimpressive. They finished with 16 each against UNCW and are essentially even (133-130) on the season.
• Smith-Rivera bumped his career scoring total to (1,530) points. He needs 10 to pass Allen Iverson for 14th place on Georgetown's All-Time scoring list. Of course, Iverson generated all of his points in only two seasons.
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