Georgetown Loses to Florida State in Second Round of NIT, 101-90

Hoyas' season-long road struggles continue in season-ending loss.

Georgetown ended its season Monday night thanks to the same struggles that have plagued the Hoyas all season: inability to win away from home, propensity to foul at catastrophic rates, and porous defensive rotations. Those weaknesses, combined with a red-hot Florida State perimeter barrage, sunk the Hoyas, 101-90, in the second round of the NIT.

Georgetown began the game on a high note, running out to a quick 11-5 lead. As they have been all season long, guards Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera fueled the Hoya attack, combining to bury a trio of three-pointers during the early run. Georgetown appeared to be clicking offensively, spreading the floor, attacking the lane and bombing away from the perimeter.

The guards kept up the production throughout the night. Starks turned in a terrific performance, netting 27 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals in his final game as a Hoya. DSR netted 22 points to cap a terrific sophomore season that was sometimes eclipsed by Starks's ironman routine at the point. Both guards slugged their way through a difficult season with too few other offensive options and too many roster shortcomings, and both deserved to hold their heads high even in season-ending defeat.

That defeat came about not because of any offensive shortcomings, but because the Hoyas could not stay out of their own way on defense. Jabril Trawick committed a pair of early fouls and was relegated to the bench, and Mikael Hopkins upped the ante by picking up his third whistle before six minutes elapsed. The Hoya front line's foul trouble was so severe that Bradley Hayes saw extended first-half run, which included both good (4 points, 4 rebounds) and bad (a silly technical foul, a pair of sloppy turnovers). As they have throughout the season, the Hoyas showed precious little consideration for their own tendency to get into foul trouble, picking up senseless, easily avoidable fouls early that retroactively became back-breakers when the fouls mounted later on. Florida State was quickly in the bonus, then began taking advantage from the perimeter.

The Hoyas couldn't protect the lane without hacking or the three-point arc at all, eventually yielding 11 of 16 from three-point range and 30 of 38 attempts from the free-throw line. With a few minutes to play before half, the Hoya deficit stood at just three but seemed like more, and soon became exactly that, as Florida State rattled off a 12-2 run that swelled the halftime lead to 48-35. During that stretch, the Seminoles buried three triples, the last as part of a humiliating four-point play. That trio was a cruel bookend to the Hoyas' half-opening three-point barrage, and those 48 first-half points were the most yielded by Georgetown this season, a mark of defensive ineptitude that endured after intermission.

When play resumed, the Hoyas made a few runs that amounted to little, only occasionally shrinking the deficit to single digits and never seriously threatening Florida State. Trawick partially redeemed his early foul trouble, attacking the rim after the half to finish with 14 points. The junior wing's game was a microcosm of a season in which he struggled early but flourished late, making up to some degree for lost time but not enough to salvage a disappointing team performance. Starks and Smith-Rivera continued to pour it in from the perimeter, but there were too many fouls, too many free-throws, and too many easy baskets for the Seminoles.

The loss caps a frustrating, disjointed season for Georgetown. This year began with Joshua Smith on the court and Greg Whittington on the bench, and ended with neither, as turnover exacerbated deficiencies on a thin roster. The Hoyas were redundant in some departments (foul-prone, mediocre posts) and painfully thin in others, particularly on the wing and in the back-court. Recruiting failures and developmental delays were equally exposed as JT3 trusted barely seven players most games.

The end of the Hoya season also means the ends of the seniors' careers. This includes Starks, a noble, hard-working player whose impressive senior season wasn't enough to redeem team-wide shortcomings. The guard grew up from a nervous, unready freshman to a contributor, then starter, then finally a leader as a senior, making the progression made by a series of very solid four-year guards in the past decade.

Nate Lubick also played his last game in blue and gray, ending a frustrating career in which he always tried, occasionally seemed like a steady contributor, but never evolved as much as Hoya fans justifiably expected, given the playing time he was allotted. Monday also ended the career of John Caprio, a solid walk-on who worked his way into a scholarship for his final season and was a likeable personality, if sometimes a mystifying insertion into the lineup.

It remains to be seen whether two more Hoyas, Moses Ayegba and Aaron Bowen, will play another season for Georgetown. Ayegba missed an entire season with injury, and may be eligible to play one more year, whether at Georgetown or elsewhere. The big man's career never fully got on track, although he gave memorable efforts during the Hoyas' extended winning streak last year.

Bowen missed much of his freshman year with a shoulder injury, and may be eligible for one more season. This was the first year that he saw extended run, tallying double-digit minutes in every game but one. He averaged career highs across the board, becoming a regular contributor in the open court and on the offensive glass. He continues to be a questionable decision-maker and maddeningly inconsistent, but Bowen's energy and athleticism were a valuable asset this season.

November is a long time from now. Before then, a bumper crop of Hoya recruits will arrive, poised to fill many of the gaps on this year's roster. Kenner League will have us buzzing and speculating about who's ready, who's better than last season, and what this team will look like next year. The team that takes the court next season will look far different than the one that left the court Monday. The wing positions will be much deeper, Smith may return as a post anchor, and, aside from Smith-Rivera, virtually no one will be guaranteed a starting spot. We'll see a lot of growing pains, but there should be more growth.

For now, it's hard to think about much more than the end of yet another disappointing season. It has been two years since Georgetown won an NCAA Tournament game, and seven since the Hoyas saw the second weekend of the dance. Those facts were set before this unsuccessful trip to Tallahassee, and they provide ample fodder for the growing fire-JT3 wing of the fan base. Monday just ensured that this long, difficult year wouldn't have a redemptive coda.

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