The men’s basketball team’s quest to make the NCAA Tournament took a turn for the worse Saturday night.
The ‘Canes led by 10 points late in the second half, but they were unable to close the game out and eventually lost in overtime 87-80 to the Georgetown Hoyas at the Convocation Center.
Darius Rice had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the ‘Canes and Guillermo Diaz also had 20 points in a losing effort.
“I thought this was the best game Darius Rice has played this year,” Head Coach Perry Clark said.
The ‘Canes struggled with turnovers throughout the game and had several late turnovers in the second half that proved to be costly. In addition, they never found an answer for Georgetown’s Gerald Riley, who scored 35 points on 13 of 17 shooting, including seven in overtime.
“We didn’t have an answer for Riley,” Clark said. “He was making shots, most of them tough shots.”
The ‘Canes’ failure to hold a late lead has haunted them at times this season, the last time against Pittsburgh in a game the ‘Canes lost in double overtime. However, the ‘Canes responded from that loss with two tough road wins to get back on track. They will look to do much of the same after this disappointing loss.
“I don’t know what happened,” forward Gary Hamilton said. “We let up and didn’t put things together when we needed to. We aren’t giving up; we can still get to where we want to be if we take care of business the rest of the way.”
After the game, Clark focused more on the costly turnovers as the main reason for the loss. The ‘Canes had 23 on the day.
“I thought we came out and executed the game plan and did a lot of things we wanted to do, but the difference in the game was we turned the ball over,” Clark said. “We faced some defensive pressure and we knew it was coming, but we did a horrible job tonight handling it.”
Another thing that hurt the ‘Canes in this game was taking bad shots and giving Georgetown too many open looks at the basket.
“Our shot selection was bad,” Clark said. “We had chances and opportunities but our turnovers killed us. We gave up 17 uncontested shots in the paint in the second half, and that’s way too many.”
The ‘Canes did put four players in double figures, including Rodrigue Djahue, who had 13 points and Robert Hite, who had 12 points, but shot just five for 15 from the field, playing on a badly sprained ankle.
“I thought Rob really toughed it out,” Clark said. “It just seems like we can’t put everything together in the same game; the last two games we don’t turn it over, but we didn’t shoot well. Tonight, we shot the ball well but turned it over.”
The ‘Canes head on the road now to face Rutgers and Georgetown again. The ‘Canes went 1-1 against these two teams at the Convocation Center.
“Certainly, this is not a position I wanted to be in or thought we would be in; I thought in the last three games, we would have won a couple of them, but you have to play the hand you are dealt, so now we have to get tough and get them back on the road,” Clark said. “We already beat Rutgers once, so we are capable of beating them, and we could have won tonight, so we are capable of winning in Washington D.C.”
Darren Grossman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.