Well, that was frustrating to watch. If you want to label one thing as the decisive factor in this game, the fact that Georgetown shot only 13% from beyond the arc is an easy scapegoat. However, it was a series of familiar systemic problems with both management and execution that truly put this one out of reach.
The last time these two teams met, circumstances were different. Creighton was only in their second game without senior point guard Maurice Watson Jr. and senior forward Zach Hanson was also absent from the lineup. On the other hand, the Hoyas seemed focused and motivated after getting schooled harshly by Ed Cooley and Providence. Creighton shot 1/18 from beyond the three point line and Georgetown won by 20 as they took advantage of erractic defensive rotations by players not accustomed to the new lineups.
Fast-forward three weeks. The game started with Jonathan Mulmore guarding freshman Davion Mintz. There appeared to be recognition on the part of the Hoyas that perimeter defense was going to be crucial. Unfortunately, focusing on the outside tied up the Hoyas and allowed Cole Huff to take it inside for an easy baseline drive. Jessie Govan scored two early baskets and managed to stay out of foul trouble, but his offensive contributions were consistently offset by Huff and Justin Patton.
Despite an early deficit, there was reason for optimism as Georgetown did a serviceable job of keeping players in position for offensive rebounds. The tradeoff here, unfortunately, was that this commitment to second chance points was making it more difficult for the Hoyas to get back to defend Creighton in transition. Both teams were having more success scoring from around the rim. L.J. Peak found Rodney Pryor for a crafty layup, then a defensive miscue from Creighton allowed Pryor to find Govan for a wide-open dunk. Patton did the same for Creighton after a similar lapse by the Hoyas, his awareness and finishing ability showing why the freshman is shooting a conference-leading 70% on the season.
After a characteristically well-choreographed layup by Peak, Pryor executed a clean block from behing at the other end and Akoy Agau began his homecoming performance by scoring on a nice backdoor cut. Pryor hit the first three for the Hoyas at 11:30 and the Hoyas were only trailing 21-17. When Patton picked up his second foul attempting to defend Jagan Mosely on a drive, Greg McDermott immediately sent the freshman to the bench. This would be a big opportunity to make up ground. Pryor's jumper briefly brought Georgetown back to within one possession. That was short-lived, as walk-on PG Tyler Clement threaded a pass through the Hoyas defense during a switch and Hanson put away an easy dunk.
Kaleb Johnson came in late in the half, the first to break into the 7-man rotation to which JTIII had adhered early in the game. Govan was officially in double figures and Peak dribbled into 3 players and finished a layup while taveling backwards out of bounds. (As one does.) Unfortunately, Marcus Foster was getting hot. He took advantage of defensive mismatches against Govan and Agau, then kept his personal momentum going with a three over LJ Peak. Still, with one minute remaining in the first half, the Hoyas seemed stable.
What followed was a sequence that includes all manner of head-smacking basketball errors. Georgetown had the ball until Akoy Agau turned it over, allowing Marcus Foster hit a jumper. It looked as though the Hoyas would have the final possession of the half. After running down the shot clock, Peak passed to Marcus Derrickson who airballed a three from the corner. Was it halftime yet? Oh, no! Because with 1.9 seconds left on the clock, Pryor fouled Huff 85 feet away from the basket and sent Creighton to the line. It was an inauspicious ending. The Hoyas were down 41-33.
Patton, Hanson and Toby Hegner all entered the second with two fouls. Peak scored 5 points in the first minute and cut the difference to three. The quick pace continued. Patton hit a fadeaway jumper over Govan. Foster knocked down another a three, Govan answered with a dunk off a nice pass from Mulmore, and the Jays found Patton inside for an alley-oop.
Moments later, Pryor airballed a three. That should have been a sign. The Bluejays regained the momentum as Mulmore and Peak were stuffed on consecutive possessions, punctuated by a Patton layup and Thomas three respectively. Georgetown's deficit had grown to 13 points; JTIII called a timeout. The Hoyas came out looking organized, except Pryor missed again and Agau was surrounded by too much traffic to manage a clean shot off the rebound. The Hoyas could not put the ball through the hoop, yet Marcus Foster drained his umpteenth trey like Mosely’s hand was not right up in his face.
This particular Georgetown squad does not roll over when a game seems out of reach. However, they had the same problem that sunk the Jays in the last meeting between these two teams: the Hoyas could not make shots. Govan was double-teamed inside and couldn't get it to fall. They were similarly unable to capitalize off a second chance at the possesssion thanks to Kaleb Johnson’s interior rebounding. Perimeter shooting was no better. As of the U12, the Hoyas had made only two 3-pointers on 15 attempts.
The Hoyas took advantage of some rare Creighton errors and made 4 freethrows without running any time off the clock. Following that up with a jumper and a three from Pryor, Georgetown was back within single digits. The energy shift was short-lived and, unsurprisingly, defensive lapses were to blame. Patton scored off a pass from Foster, then Khyri Thomas forced a steal and handed it off to Foster for a dunk. Isaiah Zierden was left open and converted from three.
While Creighton was busy hitting from all over the court, another Georgetown scoring drought had begun. They missed 6 shots in a row before Peak got to the basket on a driving layup (redirected by Patton, then ruled as a goaltend). The Hoyas then came up empty on two more possessions, with Govan turning it over on his third travel of the afternoon and then getting stripped by Thomas the next time down the floor. This game didn't end pretty. We saw two missed dunks - one from Agau, the other from Hanson - then Johnson dribbled the ball off his foot and looked confused. Marcus Foster hit yet another three, bringing his total to 35 points, and then the game was over.
The Hoyas are now 5-9 in conference play. We can (and will) spend a lot of time this week talkng about the bubble, the NIT, and what the team needs in order to finish with a winning record. The fact is, nothing is guaranteed...except a for spot in the Big East Tournament.
Next up, Georgetown hosts DePaul at the Verizon Center for a 7pm game on Wednesday. Not sure what FS1 has going on that night - this one will be carried nationally on CBSSN.