Despite their close proximity, Georgetown College and Thomas More University have existed in different men’s basketball universes for more than a half century.
Top-ranked and defending NAIA champion GC wasn’t about to give Thomas More an upper hand to start the new era Thursday night.
Georgetown led wire-to-wire in Crestview Hills, welcoming the former NCAA Division III program to the mighty Mid-South Conference with a 74-61 verdict.
The win extended GC’s winning streak to 24 games and moved the Tigers to 14-0 this season, unbeaten in four conference games.
It was also the Tigers’ second win of the week on a challenging northern swing that started with a 67-60 at Shawnee State in Portsmouth, Ohio, on Monday.
Jake Ohmer, a graduate of nearby Scott High School, scored 18 of his 22 points in the first half, staking GC to a 38-26 advantage.
Thomas More (12-4, 0-4) hung around for much of the second half, but Georgetown ultimately flaunted too much firepower.
Eljay Cowherd added 19 points and Jacob Conway 13 for the Tigers. Conway canned two free throws on GC’s opening possession of the night to ensure that his team never trailed.
Held in check offensively to seven points, Chris Coffey chalked up a team-high 10 rebounds to keep the Saints at bay.
It was the first game between the two schools, separated by abour an hour of blacktop on Interstate 75, since the 1968-69 season. Georgetown extended its all-time mark against Thomas More to 37 wins and onluy eight defeats.
Jaquay Wales added seven points for GC, while Kyran Jones combined six points with nine rebounds.
Ryan Batte topped Thomas More with 16 points. Noah Pack produced 14, while Reid Jolly chipped in 11.
Ohmer’s back-to-back 3-pointers gave Georgetown a 27-16 lead midway through the first half.
That followed an earlier 10-2 run, one that ended when Garrett Bertsch buried a 3-pointer for Thomas More.
Ohmer and Conway sandwiched three and two-point jumpers around a Jolly bucket to secure the double-digit lead at the break.
Led by Ohmer’s 4-for-8 showing, GC was 7-for-15 beyond the 3-point arc in the first half.
Batte scored consecutive baskets out of the locker room to sneak the Saints back within eight points.
GC notched the next nine points on two free throws by Cowherd, a layup from Coffey, and additional baskets by Cowherd and Jones.
Thomas More endured a scoreless snap of nearly four minutes before Bertsch’s basket put the Saints back on track.
GC’s lead grew to 18 points on a 3-pointer by Coffey, and later its peak of 19 on Conway’s traditional 3-point play.
Late-game threes by Pack and Luke Rudy whittled the gap to nine, but two free throws by Wales and an Ohmer tip-in sealed the deal.
Rudy registered nine points and four assists for Thomas More.
Georgetown was held significantly below its 100-point average but still shot just under 50 percent on the evening.
All but two of the Tigers’ wins have come by double-digit margins, including three of the four Mid-South tilts.
GC will look for its second 15-0 start in the past three seasons when it hosts Oakwood University in a non-league game at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The MSC road swing continues Thursday in Marietta, Georgia, against another perennial NAIA national tournament team, Life University.
The Tigers have been No. 1 in the national coach’s poll since preseason and have only three remaining regular-season contests scheduled against teams ranked in that poll. GC still has a home-and-home series with No. 19 Lindsey Wilson and a road trip remaining at No. 4 Pikeville.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.