Your Georgetown Hoyas did what they needed to do on Tuesday night, going on the road and getting a critical win at DePaul. After stealing two in a row over ranked teams, the pressure was on to keep up the momentum against a school that has only beaten the Hoyas once in the last 20 meetings. Given the rough start to conference play, Georgetown simply could not afford a bad loss.
There was a change in tonight's starting lineup, as Bradley Hayes was confined to the bench (and sporting a nice black eye). Jessie Govan got the nod instead and he opened up the scoring with a ten foot jumper off an assist from L.J. Peak. Foul trouble had limited Marcus Derrickson's minutes against Butler on Saturday but he bounced back tonight, hitting a long three the first time he touched the ball. Peak brought the early lead to 7, splitting the defense and getting to the basket for a layup. Rodney Pryor was not to be outdone in front of his hometown crowd, chipping in a three on the next possession. All of the starters were making their presence felt early and Georgetown was up 10-0 with less than 2 minutes gone in the game.
Oh, how quickly things can change. Dave Leitao called a timeout and set up a play for the ageless, timeless Billy Garrett Jr. The senior hit a three, helped get a defensive stop on the other end, then drove to the basket for a layup. Joe Hanel added a jumper of his own, the Hoyas turned it over on two consecutive trips, and Eli Cain tipped one in from under the basket. DePaul had suddenly scored 9 unanswered points of their own.
Akoy Agau checked in and added a three from the corner, becoming the fifth different Georgetown player to put points on the board. Unfortunately, that would be the last field goal for more than six minutes of playing time. The Hoyas checked all of the usual boxes as they endured a painful scoring drought. They were getting out-hustled to rebounds as Al Eichelberger made an unexpected impact down low, allowing the Blue Demons an abundance of second chance points in the paint. Freethrow shooting was erratic. Defensive rotations were slow and the guards were unable to prevent Garrett from getting to the basket. Turnovers were a problem as well, with sloppy passes and a startling number of traveling violations. Needless to say, viewers were questioning how this team had beaten the Bulldogs and Bluejays last week.
A three-pointer from Peak at the 8:24 mark of the first half ended the dry spell. Smart rebounding and good awareness from Derrickson at the other end set up a beautiful play in transition where Jon Mulmore found Pryor for yet another highlight-reel dunk. A short scoring lull followed, though defensive contributions from Mulmore and Reggie Cameron helped to minimize the damage. DePaul had briefly taken a 6 point lead, but the Hoyas punched back and ended the half on an 8-0 run. Georgetown was on top 35-33 at the break.
Fouls were starting to become a serious concern. Agau picked up three, Derrickson & Govan each had a pair, and Peak was called for his third while driving to the basket on what should have been the final play of the first half. JTIII did not believe that it was a charge and was vocal in expressing his displeasure. (GOOD.)
Cameron got the start in the second half and immediately grabbed a rebound on the defensive end, continuing in his quest to make life difficult for Eli Cain. With Peak biding his time on the sideline, the Hoyas used a zone defense that was temporarily successful in neutralizing Garrett. The next few minutes were a speedy back and forth, with the momentum favoring the Hoyas. LJ came in at the U16 to bank one in from the elbow, Derrickson knocked home a jumper, Mulmore drove and drew a foul, Mosely hit a three, Pryor drained a fadeaway in traffic and Govan put away a nice jump-hook. Despite turning the ball over on three of four possessions, Georgetown had gained a 9-point advantage.
Once again the Hoyas’ offense stagnated, only to be replaced by fouls and turnovers. Agau and Peak picked up their fourth fouls. Tre Campbell saw the court for the first time in two games and struggled to keep pace with Cain. An 11-2 run for DePaul followed and the game was tied at 52 with 8:58 remaining. From this point on, the teams traded baskets while two players dominated the narrative: Eli Cain, who racked up 15 points in the second half alone, and Reggie Cameron, who came off the bench and was remarkably effective at both ends of the floor.
It went something like this: A Derrickson jumper, assisted by Cameron, was answered at the other end with a contested three by Cain. Cameron grabbed a rebound underneath the basket to save the possession and set Pryor up for a three, which was followed by yet another three from Cain. Then Mulmore brought the ball up off the inbounds and passed it to Derrickson, who sent it to Govan inside, and when the big man saw Cameron call for it on the perimeter he passed it to the senior for a wide-open three. Moments later, after a huge putback from Cain, Mulmore tried to drive toward the basket and was stripped of the ball, yet somehow Cameron got back on defense to make a critical clean block at the other end.
When Peak came back in at the U4, the Hoyas were hanging onto a three point lead. The margin would grow, then shrink, then disappear, but the team did not give up. With 55 seconds left in the game, playing with 4 fouls and having been called for 2 charges earlier in the game, LJ Peak drove towards the basket. He (finally) got the and-1 he had been looking for and put Georgetown back on top, 74-73. A block by Govan and timely rebounding from Kaleb Johnson ensured that DePaul did not convert on their next possession. The Hoyas got the ball back with 44 seconds to go.
Then, the unthinkable happened - JOHN THOMPSON III DID NOT CALL A TIMEOUT. Play continued. Peak watched the clock, directed the offense, and headed toward the basket, skillfully laying it in with 9.7 seconds to go. My heart was in my throat as the Blue Demons nearly rattled home a three on the next possession, but for once, the iron was kind.
The final score is all that matters. Georgetown did not lose to DePaul. Post-season hopes, however faint, still hover out there on the horizon.
Next up, the Hoyas host Seton Hall at 12pm EST on Saturday.