Your fighting Georgetown Hoyas fell behind early and stayed that way on Saturday afternoon, suffering an error-filled 74-65 road defeat to the Marquette Golden Eagles. The Hoyas committed 25 turnovers and just as many mistakes defensively, where they let Marquette’s perimeter shooters free for 13 three-pointers. The loss dropped Georgetown to 0-2 in Big East play.
Considering Georgetown trailed for the game’s final 33 minutes, things started relatively well for the Hoyas. Big man Jessie Govan was able to get deep post position twice in the opening minutes, scoring 4 early points that kept the visiting Hoyas even with their hosts. Georgetown went to Govan and fellow big Marcus Derrickson early and often Saturday, attempting to establish offense through the Hoyas’ two main cogs.
Unfortunately, this strategy proved predictable for the swarming Golden Eagles, who overplayed passing lanes and doubled Hoyas on the perimeter and in the post. Georgetown seemed unprepared for Marquette’s ball hawking, readily giving the ball away. Hoyas fumbled away possessions by traveling, charging, and passing the ball out of bounds and to the opponent. There were precious few ball reversals, skip passes, or probes beyond the first layer of aggressive defense.
All those turnovers juiced the Marquette offense. The Golden Eagles like to get out and shoot, and the Hoyas’ live-ball giveaways allowed the hosts to do just that. In all, Marquette made half of its 26 three-point attempts, with Golden Eagle pest Andrew Rousey leading the way with a game-high 35 points and 6 three-pointers.
The Hoyas had no counter. Their two nominal point guards, Jonathan Mulmore and Trey Dickerson, played a total of 31 minutes but tallied more turnovers (8) than points, rebounds, and assists (3, 4, and 0, respectively) combined. They weren’t alone, as three other Hoyas gave the ball away at least 4 times apiece.
The unreliability of Georgetown’s guard play has been an ongoing issue. Beyond Mulmore and Dickerson, Jahvon Blair has shown a nose for points and decent passing instincts, but is as error-prone as a typical freshman, and gets particularly jittery under pressure. Junior wing Kaleb Johnson (12 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists against Marquette) is perhaps the Hoyas’ best perimeter defender but offensively still tops out as an ancillary playmaker, penetrating when the ball swings to him rather making plays against a set defense. Jagan Mosely also is steady on defense and with the ball but, as seen against the Syracuse press, may not quite be ready to be a full-time primary ball handler.
The backcourt’s collective issues have resulted in 62 turnovers compared to 49 assists against Georgetown’s three Big East-quality opponents to date. Opposing defenses are able to turn their attention away from the Hoya guards and toward Govan and Derrickson, who increasingly find themselves doubled in the post or encountering weak side help earlier than expected.
The guards’ failures on Saturday were particularly frustrating, given the limitations of Rousey and backcourt mate Markus Howard as defenders. Only Johnson and Mosely, who occasionally were able to convert headlong drives at the hole, seemed able overmatch the typically defensively overmatched Marquette guards.
Despite these problems, Georgetown still nearly made a game of it down the stretch. After Marquette extended its lead to 15 late in the second half, Derrickson made a put-back and converted a three-point play, then followed that up with a deep triple to cut the Golden Eagle lead to 9. A pair of Johnson free throws narrowed the deficit to just 7 as the Hoyas locked in for a key defensive possession with just two minutes to play.
The Hoyas’ fight was admirable. Coming off a dispiriting loss to Butler, in a difficult arena in a freezing city, having made more turnovers than seemed possible, it would have been understandable if Georgetown just packed it in and let the clock run out. But Derrickson in particular looked fired up in putting in consecutive baskets to narrow the lead to single digits, and the team as a whole showed fight that is an encouraging sign for this season and years to come.
Alas, an afternoon full of errors ended on just that note. Georgetown played 28 seconds of pristine defense only for Mulmore to be whistled for a senseless hand-check on Rousey, giving Marquette two free throws that pushed the margin back to 9. When Jamorko Pickett made a three to keep Georgetown alive, the Hoyas forced a miss but couldn’t gather the ensuing rebound. Instead, the ball found its way to Rousey, who buried the clinching three.
Georgetown has a number of issues to work out as it approaches a tough stretch of conference play. In addition to ball handling, stopping the ball, particularly penetration by opposing guards, remains an issue. Having shot just 14 of 58 from three against Syracuse, Butler, and Marquette, Georgetown also needs to find a way to create enough space for Govan to operate inside the arc. And, having pushed the ball successfully against lesser fare, the Hoyas need to find a way to score points in transition to make up for the dry spells they suffer in the half court.
Georgetown continues its customary Midwest road trip, and its current quest for a Big East win, Tuesday when it visits a DePaul squad that also is winless in conference play. Something will give.