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View from the Student Section: What Did I Just Witness?

Did you know that November is actually National Gut Punch Month?

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Georgetown Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a Tuesday night, right around 7 p.m. You feel anxious, but you’re in decent shape. Around 8:30, you’re feeling good. Your side will win. You know it. Until around 9. At 9, you look up at the numbers and realize that things suddenly don’t look good. It all looks weird. It doesn’t look like you drew it up, or how you even expected it to be just a few minutes before.

For the sizable contingent of Georgetown Hoyas fans who did not support Donald J. Trump for President, this script has now run in pretty much the same fashion two weeks in a row. Let’s just say this has been a bad week for Hoyas fans who did not think it was necessary to make America great again.

Tonight’s Hoyas loss was quite the punch to the gut, as they proved that November probably can now be known as National Gut Punch Month. The Hoyas once again outdid themselves in finding an innovative, artful, masterful way to lose a basketball game. In my three-plus years of following the Hoyas, I’ve seen some real masterpieces, but this tops them all.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

To be fair, on the court and in the crowd, this Georgetown game improved greatly on last season. I had the chance to see plenty of familiar faces for the first time this season in the lead-up to tipoff, as this was my first game of the season. The student section remained nearly empty at tip-off, but students took a “better late than never” approach to this one, making the Verizon Center progressively fuller and louder (and slightly more pro-Georgetown) than it had been at the start.

The first half saw a back-and-forth battle of runs between the Hoyas and the Terps. Georgetown sustained itself by drawing fouls and making free throws. In fact, on the whole, the Hoyas made a remarkable 37 of 42 shots from the charity stripe. Speaking of the stripe, Maryland guard Melo Trimble had a one-and-one opportunity on the end where I was sitting in the first half. Before the crowd noise kicked in, I referenced the Heckler’s Guide and asked Melo about his favorite subject: bowel movements. Needless to say, he bricked the free throw.

This game also saw several interesting arrangements when play was not going on. In his first-half skateboarding appearance, Jack the Bulldog followed up his skateboard act in which he dressed as a shark with a trip back across the court to chomp down on a plush turtle.

The turtle crushing continued just before the start of the second half, as the Stonewalls unveiled their amazing tifo of a Super Mario Jack popping out to step on a pair of depressed-looking turtles. See for yourself!

The Hoyas pushed the tempo offensively throughout the game, looking to maximize scoring opportunities. One telling sequence came leading into the under-12 timeout in the second half, as a series of possessions saw several fouls on Isaac Copeland go uncalled as he missed two in a row under the basket and Rodney Pryor make a three-pointer and then start a fast break with a steal.

Somewhere around that time, Hoya Blue debuted its “Jack-in-the-Box” feature, having mascot Jack pop out during a Maryland free throw. While the idea is phenomenal, the execution was less so, as Jack was off to the side out of the shooter’s vision and also popped out to early. Nevertheless, hats off for an excellent and creative idea that should get better with time.

Later in the second half, the crowd really piped up as L.J. Peak decided he would carry Georgetown to victory Greg Jennings-style by putting the team on his back. (I would link but the video I am referring to is highly NSFW, albeit hilarious.) Peak made a heads-up save on one play in the middle of the second half, ultimately making four free throws after making two from the original foul and two technical foul shots. Peak finished with a team-leading 21 points and also leapt for a vicious swat on Melo Trimble that looked like it would seal the deal.

As the clock wound down, the crowd could taste victory. In a fun moment, Isaac Copeland was taking two late-game free throws with a significant Hoyas lead. In between free throws one person in the group next to me shouted “Yo, you were in my history class!” Clearly hearing that, Copeland was shaking his head laughing. He then proceeded to drain the free throw, collecting one of his 13 points in the process. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking.

Don’t tell me you’re making me relive the finish

Sorry, but since this may or may be considered “reporting,” I should at least tell you what I saw. The crowd became increasingly anxious, getting into several back-and-forth chanting matches with the sizable Maryland contingent. It all sounded like a cacophonous mess but at some points I could hear “Let’s Go Hoyas...Maryland!” as the chants were slightly out of sync.

The late-game moves increasingly enraged the crowd, as from the crowd’s standpoint, there was no way to tell what had contributed to Anthony Cowan’s two free throws to cut the Hoyas’ lead to 73-72. No announcement was made and no replay was shown. The inbound never came in, so to us it looked as though the officials had stopped the game deliberately to give Maryland two extra free throws. Students were livid.

At first, allowing the late layup by Melo Trimble seemed like a potentially decent idea. But then came the whistle where officials ruled that Tre Campbell had stepped out of bounds. I was way too far away to see whether or not he actually stepped out, but from my standpoint (full of biased fans looking for one kind of outcome) it looked like a) Campbell was fouled, or b) he did not step out. At that point, what had been a slightly leaking dam holding back anger burst open, as the student section collectively spewed forth a river of profanity. There were also several election-themed references to the system being rigged.

Taking a step back, it seems more clear that late-game mismanagement was the culprit for this collapse, but in the crowd, it looked like a “ref show” at its finest. The case for that could definitely be made. This officiating crew called a seemingly incredible 56 fouls (although in an unusual twist, Georgetown actually fouled less than Maryland.) Confirming Twitter reports, I saw at least two objects flung in the direction of the court, but they seemed to come from the sections next to and outside the student section. I hope students did not toss anything. I’d expect better (although then again, I can understand the urge, as I nearly flung my phone.)

Well, that sucked. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory always does. But this team looked better out there than any Georgetown product I’ve seen in a while and plus, going to a game and dancing and screaming your heart out is still a valuable way to spend your time, even if it cuts years off your life from stress.

Hoya Saxa! Beat Arkansas State!