NCAA Football

Georgetown lost to the Americans for the first time in 40 years

Georgetown lost to the Americans for the first time in 40 years


American University coach Mike Brennan walked into the media room in the belly of a waterlogged Capital One Arena Wednesday afternoon after accomplishing a feat that hadn’t happened in four decades. Not long after, a disillusioned Patrick Ewing walked into the same room with the air of a guy who was on the wrong end of both of those moments, 40 years apart.

American came back from a 16-point deficit to upset its Georgetown rival 74-70, giving the Hoyas their first win since 1982, when Ewing was a sophomore star for the Hoyas.

Ewing now coaches the Hoyas (3-3), and the result — coupled with last week’s loss to Loyola Marymount — will only add fuel to doubts about the program’s health after a disastrous 6-25 campaign last season that ended with a 21-game losing streak.

The victory for the Eagles (3-2), which ended their 10-22 season, resulted in Brennan being doused with water by players during the postgame celebration.

“A lot of programs don’t have moments like that,” Brennan said. “So hopefully we can capitalize on that. I am happy for the group. They have been working since they got here. They stuck with it as a group, stuck together. Therefore, I am glad that they can celebrate such a moment.”

The American has only one winning season since 2016.

For Ewing, who is 71-87 in his sixth season since joining his alma mater, the loss was the latest setback in a rocky start. Ewing reshuffled the coaching staff during the offseason and brought in 10 starters to create a fresh start for a program looking to regain national prominence. This did not happen.

“Everything will happen throughout the year,” Ewing said. “Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll look back and look at those failures and laugh. But now I don’t feel like laughing.

“You can’t start abandoning ship. We still have a lot of games. At some point, everyone has to look at themselves and understand what they are doing right or wrong to make the team work better. We had long conversations. Sometimes the conversation needs to stop. It’s about going out and doing the job.”

The Eagles were led by Johnny O’Neill, who scored a game-high 16 points. Jeff Sprouse added 15 and Jackson Knotek 14.

Primo Spears led Georgetown with 15 points and six assists, but also had five turnovers at point guard. Teammate Akok Akok had 14 points and Jay Heath had 10.

Things to know about Wednesday’s game:

The jitters started early as Ewing’s anger echoed around the arena (an announced crowd of 3,267) as he berated his team less than eight minutes into the game. The Hoyas were down 11-10 at the time, and the coach tore into his players during a timeout.

His anger seemed to have paid off. The Hoyas came out of that timeout and went on a 19-2 run sparked by Ryan Mutamoba, who used his length over the undersized Eagles with a hook and layup before capping the run with an offensive rebound. Georgetown led 40-30 at halftime.

The American returned to the game, shooting 59.3 percent in the second half. Not only did the Eagles find their range, but they also got to the rim on putbacks and off the dribble. The Hoyas shot 25 percent after halftime and were undone by a 14-3 AU run that pushed Georgetown to a 61-55 deficit.

“We’ve been working on it all year, just getting wins like this,” O’Neill said. “The energy from the bench and just everyone on the court was tremendous. And it just helped us build it. Especially in the second half we started to work and the support from the bench adds a bit of motivation, hearing those guys cheering and knowing you’re not alone.”

Ewing was asked postgame about the pressure he faces leading a program struggling to get off on the right foot after last season’s setback.

“Pressure is life, you deal with pressure every day of your life,” Ewing said. “There are people living on the streets trying to find food. It’s pressure. Our parents get up at five in the morning, go to work and try to provide for you. It’s pressure. Yes, we talk about pressure in sports, but it’s not real pressure.

“We all have to do what we need to do to be successful and, yes, to get Georgetown back to where I think we need to be. But sometimes there are bumps in the road. We have bumps in the road now, and it all depends on how we handle those bumps? Are we going to put our heads down, or are we going to be like rats and run away from a sinking ship? Or are we going to step up and get the job done? We’ve brought in guys who can step up and get the job done. We just have to fix what we’re doing in the second half of the game to be able to do what we need to do.”

Georgetown guard Brandon Murray missed the game with a lower-body injury. The 6-foot-5 sophomore from Hermantoum, Md., has started each of the first five games and leads the team in both scoring (15.4) and rebounding (4.4).

The American was without top scorer Colin Small. The junior guard averaged 11.7 points.

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