Your Georgetown Hoyas remain undefeated in regulation, I guess. For the second time this month, Georgetown wasted a double-digit lead and ultimately lost at home in overtime. This time, the opponent was Butler, the setting was the teams’ Big East opener, and the lead ballooned to 20 points at its greatest. Like in their previous collapse this season, the Hoyas couldn’t stop ball penetration on defense and couldn’t match their opponents’ defensive adjustments on the other end. Ultimately, Georgetown fell to Butler in double-OT, 89-87.
Before the half, the Hoyas looked as though they would run away with their first Big East showdown of the Patrick Ewing era. Georgetown built a 42-24 lead on the strength of hot Hoya shooting and truly incompetent Butler offense. For their part, the Hoyas attacked the Butler man defense time and again. Marcus Derrickson set up shop down low, scoring Georgetown’s first 6 points en route to a season-high 23. Jahvon Blair, who finished with 17 points, went off from beyond the stripe and off the bounce. The Hoyas got the shots they wanted in the half court and in transition. For their part, the visiting Bulldogs couldn’t make a shot, hitting just 32 percent from the field and 9 percent from 3 in a brick-filled first half that saw Butler star Kelan Martin riding the pine with foul trouble. Riding high, Georgetown entered the half up 18.
Reversion seemed inevitable, particularly with Martin returning to action. But the whiplash proved to be far more severe than anticipated. Butler almost immediately chipped away at the Hoya lead, which withered to around 10. Martin and fellow Bulldog Kamar Baldwin went to work off the bounce, abusing their defenders to get into the paint for high-percentage looks. Martin got the better of Derrickson, countering Doc’s strength with his own speed in space. With size, speed, and length, Baldwin took whatever his defender gave him. The offense that didn’t come from Baldwin or Martin came from energy, as the Bulldogs scored 9 second-half points off of turnovers and 8 on the offensive glass. In all, Butler shot 64 percent from the field in the second half, scoring 51 points after mustering just 24 before the .break
On offense, Georgetown bottomed out. Georgetown looked timid in the face of a Butler press, which seemed unexpected even though several previous Hoya opponents. When the Hoyas advanced the ball past half court, they faced a shape-shifting Butler zone that was a wrench in the gears of the Georgetown offense even though, again, previous opponents have gone zone to slow down the Hoyas. Soon, a game that Georgetown led for 38:16 in regulation was genuinely in doubt when Butler took the lead with barely a minute to play.
Briefly, it looked as though Georgetown would salvage the win in regulation. Derrickson made a miracle 3 to restore the Georgetown lead with under a minute to play. After a pair of Martin free throws again tied the game, Govan hit a dramatic runner to put the Hoyas ahead with 6 seconds to play. When Baldwin missed a three-pointer, the game appeared to be sealed.
But then the game that wouldn’t die didn’t. Butler guard Sean McDermott slid into the lane, finding space to leap and, when the ball fell to him, tip Baldwin’s miss back at the basket. The ball cleanly fell through the net at the buzzer, triggering overtime.
To their credit, the Hoyas didn’t fold after the dispiriting end to regulation. Govan and Derrickson alternated big man moves down low to put Georgetown up 4 in the extra session. But then two Butler lay-ups, the bane of Georgetown’s porous defense, tied the game up. Neither team could generate offense at the end of the first overtime: in Georgetown’s case, an embarrassing, fumbling series of failed picks to spring Blair open that resulted in the freshman traveling in a crowd of Bulldog defenders. Butler proved no better, leading to a second OT.
In that final session, Georgetown once again had the ball with the game tied in the final minute. Again a freshman ended with the ball in his hands, in this case Pickett, who after a hot first half had struggled. Jamorko proved no better than his classmate, losing the ball out of bounds. On offense, Butler was able to get the look it wanted by isolating Martin on Derrickson, yielding a runner from the Bulldog forward that proved to be the winning points.
There was good, bad, and head-scratching about today’s game. Govan and Derrickson both went for double-doubles, beasting on a Butler front line that couldn’t do much beyond Martin’s stellar play. But Georgetown found it increasingly difficult to get the ball to its junior bigs down the stretch, as the Butler zone closed off looks inside. Blair generated a bunch of points at the line but struggled to create offense late as he and Mulmore combined for 9 turnovers and precious little offense down the stretch. Georgetown also struggled defensively, with Ewing opting to stick with Derrickson on Martin and Mulmore on Baldwin rather than shifting to a zone or a different look, such as the faster Kaleb Johnson on Martin.
Ultimately, this season is a learning year for Ewing and his charges. The coach will need to make mistakes and adjustments. For those of us who have seen a sputtering offense down the stretch or a defense that can’t control ball penetration for going on a decade now, that’s cold comfort.
Looking strictly at this season, Georgetown is still searching for its first quality win despite a favorable win-loss record. The Hoyas will get their next chance at Marquette on Saturday.