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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Akingbola sets GW record with 11 blocks as men’s basketball sinks Navy in overtime

Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor
Babatunde Akingbola stretches out for a block.

Men’s basketball got back in the win column Tuesday with a 79-77 overtime victory over the United States Naval Academy Midshipmen in the Smith Center.

Senior guard James Bishop IV and graduate student center Babatunde “Stretch” Akingbola were crucial in overtime for the Revs, who won their second game in the extra frame of the year to move to 7-2. Akingbola set a school record with 11 blocks on the evening, breaking a 47-year mark set by Kevin Hall, who is perhaps best known for playing the title role in “The Predator.”

Despite leading for 39:53 of regulation time, the Revs found themselves scrambling late after Navy took a 65-64 lead with 34 seconds to go. After a redshirt freshman forward Darren Buchanan Jr. free throw tied the game, an Akingbola block, his 10th of the game, would spring freshman guard Jacoi Hutchinson out for a last-second fastbreak, but a mishandle out-of-bounds would lead to overtime in the Smith Center. 

The overtime stanza saw Navy take a short-lived one-point lead at the 1:29 mark on the heels of a three-point play from Midshipmen sophomore guard Austin Benigni. But the Revs would answer back, as Bishop matched Benigni’s and-one with one of his own just 23 seconds later. The two teams would trade blows down the stretch, but a Bishop free throw would give the Revs a two-point lead with six seconds to go that they would not relinquish.

When asked what breaking the blocks record meant to him, Akingbola credited Head Coach Chris Caputo with giving him the opportunity to start for the Revs after not seeing significant minutes at Auburn last season.

“Coach Caputo gave me a chance,” Akingbola said. “When I put my name in the transfer portal, he was the first one that believed in me, and that means a lot. When he did that I said ‘I’m a loyal person. You give me an opportunity like that, I would do everything and anything for a team and for the program, that’s the type of person that I am.’”

Offensively, the Revs struggled to get much going against the stingy Midshipmen defense, who, coming into the night, were 24th in NCAA Division I basketball in scoring defense, allowing just 62.2 points per game. Bishop and redshirt freshman Garrett Johnson each had 18 points in the victory, and redshirt freshman Buchanan contributed 14 of his own.

When asked about the team’s offensive struggles, Bishop praised the Midshipmen defense. 

“I mean, they’re a very physical team,” Bishop said. “They were really good on defense. They’re really sound, and getting tough when you press definitely slowed us down a little bit and made it a little harder to get into sets.”

The Revs, who on average shoot 75 percent from the foul line, shot an uncharacteristic 54.5% from the line, going 18-33. On the other side, Navy went 22-24 from the line.

The game featured 49 total fouls in the 45 minutes of game time. When asked about his team’s woeful free-throw shooting, specifically Buchanan’s late misses, Caputo explained how he controls the mental aspect of those moments.

 “I don’t even say a word, because he could go 6 of 6 the next game and I’ve wasted my breath and put something in his mind that really there’s no reason to,” Caputo said. “Although there are guys sometimes when you see something in the routine that you don’t like and then you kind of wait to see ‘Hey, is he not making them?’ And if that’s the case, there are some things that we do in terms of routine, and maybe a little bit of mental preparation.” 

Ultimately, Caputo said the team came into the matchup expecting a battle and that he is encouraged by their performance.

“So a really good win for us,” Caputo said. “We continue to find ways over time, but my expectation is nothing is easy. And so, tonight wasn’t easy. We don’t put the uniforms on and expect it to be easy. We actually expected it to be the other way, that it’s gonna be hard every night.”

The Revs look to continue their winning ways this weekend when they take on the Coppin State Eagles Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Smith Center.

Jaden DiMauro contributed reporting.

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