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View from the Student Section: Annual November Mid-Major Loss

Yep, it happened again. National Gut Punch Month continues!

Big East Basketball Tournament - First Round Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

At this point, you might as well mark it on your calendars. Another year, another occasion where Georgetown loses a November “buy game.” National Gut Punch Month continues! Yes, Georgetown hosted Arkansas State, let the visitors wipe them off the floor in the first half, and then led a furious comeback to fall short to the visiting squad... and now owes them $95,000 (figure courtesy of a Casual FOIA request of our friends at Arkansas State).

And this time, fans could not point fingers at a lackluster home crowd. Georgetown students packed McDonough Arena and made it a loud, and dare I say tough place to play. But the Red Wolves of Arkansas State cared not for Georgetown fan noise. They consistently slashed and dashed their way to the basket and found open corner threes to burn the Hoyas’ defense. Yet again, the same problems that plagued Georgetown last season returned, as their defense looked as porous and listless as ever.

Arkansas State guard Devin Carter might as well have been Monmouth’s Justin Robinson, or Providence’s Kris Dunn, or Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead, or any of the other scoring guards who torched the Hoyas last season. Carter scored 25 points and led the way to the upset over Georgetown.

Additionally, Arkansas State seemed to accumulate several points off second chance opportunities. On at least two occasions they missed a shot late in the shot clock, only to rebound the miss and put it back in for a basket.

On the Hoyas’ side, Jessie Govan carried the Hoyas in the first half, scoring 16 of Georgetown’s first 24 points. L.J. Peak scored 16 second half points and tried to will the Hoyas back from their deficit, but it was not to be. The offense continued to flounder as it frequently featured directionless passes outside the arc and limited pushing, particularly in the first half.

The second half saw the Hoyas claw back as they got a few more favorable bounces and more of their shots fell, but the numbers still do not look great, particularly the 3-20 mark from three-point range. The Hoyas tried their best to come back, but the team just allowed too much of a deficit in the first half to make it happen.

The Crowd

For me personally, having the game on campus was a great pleasure. I walked right over from class, not having to worry about a bus, Metro, or Uber, and found a seat in McDonough. Having gotten there early, I saw a sizable contingent of student fans on the side most TV viewers saw on camera, so I went to the other side and posted up behind the FS1 announcers.

Fans seemed amped for this game. Before tip-off, I saw a group of fans on the other side pointing and waving to a friend just a couple of rows behind me. The friend, for some reason, responded by dropping and giving the fans on the other side 20 push-ups.

As the TV broadcast went live, the producer turned to us, signaling for us to gather behind the camera. I had a prime spot between the two broadcasters and decided to dance around happily as I was quite excited for the matchup. I have no photographic evidence of this, but I could see myself gyrating on the monitor, and a friend of mine informed me that the camera caught me dabbing.

From tip-off and even through the end of the first half as the Arkansas State lead grew, the fans brought a lot of noise to the gym. They definitely need to do this more often. McDonough allows cheers to resonate much more easily than the spacious Verizon Center, and the mostly full bleachers meant that the chants of “Let’s Go Hoyas” and “De-fense” sounded more intimidating than usual.

I tried to target my heckles, realizing there was a possibility that the TV microphones would catch them. A quick check of the game thread indicates that this did in fact work, as people heard my shout of “win this one for Casual Hoya!” I had hoped the squad would be buoyed by my words, but it turned out it was not the squad I had intended, as from there, Arkansas State grew their lead even further into the end of the first half.

Heading into the second half, the FS1 telecast offered one more opening shot of the announcers. I was still there, and this time, to reflect the general disappointment of the Hoyas fan base, I shrugged and folded my arms. The fact that my hair hid the Casual headband serves as a reminder that I probably need a haircut.

As the second half started, the crowd seemed quieter, weary from the beatdown suffered in the first half and with a significant number of people who wisely chose to flee. The Hoyas’ play willed the remaining crowd into action in the latter part of the half, however. As they trimmed the gap down to thirteen with a quick run out of the gate, the crowd piped up with a loud “Hoya Saxa” chant. When Georgetown pulled the deficit to nine at the under-4 timeout, the crowd came alive. I could see the student fan contingent on the other side collectively dancing in excitement.

But it was Rodney Pryor’s three-pointer cutting the gap to four that blew the roof off the place. The crowd stomped on the bleachers and created a mess of noise to disrupt Arkansas State. A group of fans frequently targeted guard C.J. Foster for his intriguing hairstyle, often chanting the thoroughly unoriginal but nonetheless effective “C.J. sucks!”

With 1:26 left in the second half, Arkansas State called timeout, although the player with the ball may have traveled. I looked at FS1’s monitor in front of me, which seemed to confirm a travel, I shouted in a tongue-in-cheek way to a nearby ref, “Look at the camera! It was a travel!” The official looked my way and couldn’t help but smirk.

Despite cutting the deficit to three, the Hoyas could not take advantage of an opportunity to tie the game due to a turnover on a key late inbound with 14 seconds left. As Arkansas State sealed Georgetown’s fate, some of the diehard student fans turned their anger at the bench. “Fire Thompson!” echoed through the increasingly quiet gym. Normally I’d scoff at the notion, but now, after witnessing so many late-game collapses, so many mid-major upsets, so many instances of porous defense, I could not help but join in.

I’ll leave the decision of whether or not to join the “Fire Thompson” bandwagon up to you, but fans should not accept this as the norm. Despite the promises of change this offseason, this game ended up in the loss column for the same reason as so many of the other bad losses from the last few seasons. I try to find reasons for optimism with this team, but today I just can’t.

The only optimistic thing I can say for certain is that the players on this team fought their best, but they could only do so much without direction.

Hoya Saxa! Let’s go save this season!