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To Err is Hoya: Georgetown Loses at Marquette, 76-66

Mistakes plague Hoyas’ lopsided loss.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Well that stunk. Georgetown gave up the game’s first 11 points at Marquette and trailed almost wire-to-wire in a 76-66 defeat in Milwaukee. Other than Rodney Pryor’s 23 points, there wasn’t much to like about Wednesday’s performance, which was characterized by sloppy defense, disjointed offense, and repeated mental mistakes. Coming off of a six-game winning streak to close non-conference play, the loss to the Golden Eagles was a sobering start to the Big East schedule.

Things started out poorly Wednesday night, and didn’t get much better. Georgetown went scoreless on its first nine possessions, an ugly assortment of missed long jumpers, forced drives, and poor ball-handling. Pryor took a while to get cooking, and LJ Peak, the team’s other stalwart scorer, battled a groin issue all night and finished with just 4 points on 1-of-8 shooting. Marquette didn’t come out scorching, but, with a top-20 three-point percentage nationally, connected on enough early treys to run up a double-digit lead.

The Hoyas chipped away at the large early deficit as Pryor and Marcus Derrickson (11 points, 3 made three-pointers) began to heat up from deep. Another triple, this time from Tre Campbell, eventually tied the game at 26 just 12 minutes into the game. It appeared that Georgetown had dug itself out of its early hole.

But just as soon as the game was tied, it slipped away again, this time for good. JT3 nonsensically trotted out a lineup that included neither Peak nor Pryor, and Georgetown predictably fumbled away three straight possessions. Marquette rattled off seven straight, and maintained that lead after Derrickson committed a brain-dead over-the-back foul with one-tenth of a second remaining before the half, gifting the Golden Eagles a pair of free throws entering the break.

After intermission was no better, as Marquette led by double digits for the bulk of the second half. Georgetown’s defense remained disorganized: two players would jump to the ball, leaving a Marquette player open at the rim or on the perimeter. Switches and rotations confounded the Hoyas, who alternated from zone to man to press without really succeeding at any of them. Georgetown wasn’t able to slow down Marquette, yielding a porous 76 points on 68 possessions and 43 percent from three.

Lacking both defensive stops to fuel transition offense and a healthy Peak, Georgetown couldn’t score enough to keep up. Derrickson had some promising moments, but still relies heavily on others to produce open jumpers and post-up opportunities—a serious liability on a team short on playmakers. Jessie Govan (11 points, 6 rebounds) had a maddening game, connecting on just 5 of 13 shots and missing a number of finishes around the basket that could have kept the game close.

Georgetown didn’t absolutely need a win on Wednesday. The Hoyas probably have to finish just over .500 to make the NCAA Tournament, and victories at Marquette have been few and hard-fought. This year’s Golden Eagles are an energetic bunch of shooters, a hard team to contain, particularly in their house.

But the Hoyas needed to be competitive, and they were not, tying the game just once and never coming closer than six points during the entire second half. Georgetown isn’t making progress on the defensive end, a liability that will limit its chances to beat Villanova, Creighton, Butler, and Xavier, all of which score at a rate as good or better than Marquette.

As confused as Georgetown’s defense looks, the Hoya offense may be even murkier. Georgetown generally has been able to lean on Pryor and Peak during non-conference play. After that, points have been unreliable. Big East defenses could expose the lopsided Georgetown offense, particularly if Peak is limited or has to miss time.

The loss to Marquette raises the pressure to pull off home wins against Xavier this Saturday or Butler one week later, and to win at Providence one week from tonight. After tonight, it’s hard to feel optimistic about the Hoyas’ chances.