On 80s night in Newark, the Hoyas simply couldn't turn back the clock against the now surging Pirates. On the 100th meeting between these long-time Big East foes, Georgetown failed to deliver in what was probably a virtual elimination game as the team enters the final few weeks of conference play. To no one's surprise, the usual problems - turnovers, defensive rebounding, and free throw disparity - all contributed to Georgetown's less-than-stellar evening.
Donning old-school uniforms, Seton Hall energized its fired-up crowd with a performance that harkened back to the 1989 glory days when Anthony Avent and Ramon Ramos propelled the Pirates to the Final Four. For its part, Georgetown could only turn back the clock by two years, as this loss bore a striking resemblance to the Hoyas' 15 point drubbing at the Prudential Center two years ago. With only seven games left in conference play, this season looks like it will end much like that 2013-14 season in which the Hoyas stumbled their way to an NIT berth. In fact, there is no better bellwether to determine the success of a Georgetown season than our yearly game at Seton Hall. When we lose in New Jersey, we almost always find ourselves on the outside looking in (see 2002-03, 2003-04, 2008-09, 2013-14). With a 13-11 record, it appears that this unfortunate trend will continue.
Like several of Georgetown's opponents this season, Seton Hall relied on the quickness of its guards to slice through the Hoyas' defense and find easy looks at the rim. Despite a relatively cold shooting night from their leading scorer, Isaiah Whitehead, the Pirates received solid efforts from guards Khadeen Carrington (18 points, 4 assists) and Desi Rodriguez (15 points), as the Hoyas simply couldn't find a way to defend the Hall's jumpy backcourt.
After an uneven start for both teams early, Georgetown found itself in early foul trouble (how surprising!) when Big Brad Hayes picked up his second foul only five minutes into the game and then Kaleb Johnson joined him on the bench a few minutes later. Despite the foul woes, Georgetown had a sense of belief, as an early air campaign from beyond the arc kept the Hoyas alive. Some timely threes from Hackensack's own Reggie Cameron (returning to New Jersey for his annual homecoming) and Lil' Tre Campbell (who finally seems to have re-discovered his stroke) allowed this contest to remain tight for the first ten minutes.
And for a while, it seemed like Georgetown's defense - yes, defense - would finally stand up to a challenge. A combination of Peak, Kaleb and Copeland actually did well to neutralize Isaiah Whitehead and force him to take a number of ill-advised mid-range jumpers. When he did, the Hoyas were able to take advantage of long rebounds to push the pace and score a few transition buckets.
But unfortunately, the fun didn't last very long. As Carrington and Rodriguez sliced their way to the basket, Georgetown (wisely, although belatedly) switched to a 2-3 zone to force the normally cold-shooting Pirates to hit from outside. The plan didn't work. Every time it seemed like the Pirates were in a hole, Carrington, Rodriguez and even some dude named Veer Singh were able to hit clutch threes to boost Seton Hall's lead. And when they missed, a bigger issue reared its ugly head for the Hoyas - too many offensive rebounds and second chance points. Time and again, after missed Seton Hall shots, Angel Delgado (14 points, 13 rebounds) and Ismael Sanogo would find space, collect the rebound and give The Hall another opportunity to score. Derrickson and Govan were simply no match for Delgado's size. The result was as frustrating as it was predictable.
Trailing by ten points with seven minutes to play, Georgetown revved up its press and, once again, it seemed like the Hoyas could pull off another Creighton-esque comeback. DSR and Peak led an offensive surge in the last few minutes and a number of Seton Hall misses from the stripe made things interesting. But it was too little, too late for your Somewhat Fighting Hoyas, as Whitehead ended 80s night with an emphatic slam while "Don't Stop Believin'" was blasted from the speakers. Seton Hall has now won four in a row and is in prime position to make a Tourney run, especially now that Louisville's post-season ban has opened up a new slot for bubble contenders.
Georgetown, on the other hand, faces another long ride back to the Hilltop. JTIII will undoubtedly break out his cassette player, turn on "Man in the Mirror" and ask himself if he needs to change his ways. And Georgetown, a team that has experienced more than its share of hiccups this year, will now face the grim reality of just hoping to find some rhythm (and answers) for the offseason. With less than 48 hours to prepare for a home tilt against the lowly Johnnies, Georgetown will try to secure a victory in perhaps the last game all season in which it will be favored. In the meantime, I'll celebrate 80s night by switching on "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" because I want to see someone else have their heart ripped out before being lowered into a fiery pit of hell. As you can tell, I'm tired and a little grumpy, so until next time, Hoya Saxa, I guess.