Tonight, the Hoyas lost to DePaul at home for the first time since 1991. Let's silence any remaining whispers of postseason play right now. There is no way to sugarcoat the implications of this game, and they extend far beyond the unique result. Georgetown had a 14-point first half lead, a measurable size advantage, and an opponent in significant foul trouble that had not yet won a road contest this season. Losing the game is only a small part of a greater disheartening picture.
The school is losing a generation (or more) of alumni & fans to frustration when their faith and patience are continually rewarded with disappoinment. The program is losing the respect of other Big East members. Instead of a preparing for tough and resilient competitor, opponents openly remark on the apparent laziness and disinterest of the Hoyas. The student-athletes, who should never have to face boos on their home court, are being led down a path that sees them losing out on what should be the best memories of their college career.
It would certainly be easier to describe this loss as horrible and try to forget the details. That would be an error. Documentation is important. As any student of history knows, keeping a comprehensive record of past mistakes is crucial to ensuring smart decisions in the future. Let’s apply the same principles to basketball. Graphic details are uncomfortable - they are also persuasive. Read this and remember it.
The Hoyas opened the game by going to Jessie Govan inside, attempting to establish a presence in the paint that had eluded them in their first meeting with the Blue Demons. He was well-defended by Tre’Darius McCallum, but Georgetown managed to get the tip off the glass and set up Rodney Pryor for a smooth 15-foot jumper. The defense also started off tight, smothering Billy Garrett Jr. and forcing a turnover. Govan was using his size well to finish on the offensive end.
With another jumper from Pryor, a rare three by Jonathan Mulmore, and L.J. Peak driving the baseline for an uncontested dunk while DePaul’s defense was enjoying a brief nap, the Hoyas took advantage of five turnovers by the Blue Demons and dominated the game early. Two quick fouls apiece for Eli Cain and Joe Hanel shortened DePaul’s rotation. Despite Garrett’s mid-range accuracy and ability to draw fouls as he beat our guards off the dribble, Georgetown opened up a 14 point lead.
Things started to trend downhill from there. Chris Harrison-Docks sunk an improbable three. Pryor got a steal off Cain, but his slow first (and second) steps on the break allowed defenders to catch up, foul him, and prevent the dunk. Garrett and R.J. Curington added three-pointers of their own. Suddenly, the Hoyas’ lead had shrunk to single digits. DePaul was relentless, overcoming early rebounding woes and regularly getting two or three looks on each offensive possession. Their persistence was laudable.
On the other end, Georgetown’s play was becoming frighteningly, characteristically uneven. Akoy Agau rebounded strongly, yet turned it over when he dribbled the ball off of his foot. Jagan Mosely tried to push the pace and was whistled for a charge. There were occasional signs that Marcus Derrickson was breaking out of his recent personal fog, first finishing strong on a backdoor cut from Peak then drawing the third foul on Cain and making both of his freethrows. Unfortunately, early foul trouble and defensive missteps prevented the team from taking full advantage of his momentum; Derrickson picked up his third and went to the bench with 4:21 left in the opening half. While Harrison-Docks went on a personal 5-point tear, the Hoyas managed only one field goal in 6 minutes of game time.
Brandon Cyrus made his sixth three-pointer of the year and the score was tied. Georgetown came up empty on their next possession, with Govan unable to finish in the paint off a pass from Pryor. Seconds later, Curington gave the Blue Demons the advantage (39-36) by drilling a shot from well outside the NBA line. The Hoyas got the ball back with 28.3 seconds to go. They mishandled it and did not manage to get a shot off. DePaul ended the first half on a 17-2 run.
To recap, Hanel and Cain both had 3 fouls; Harrison-Docks, Currington & McCallum all had 2. Georgetown should have exploited this. Instead, the Hoyas were being outplayed, outhustled and outscored by the Blue Demons’ bench going into the break.
JTIII allegedly acknowledged to CBSSN at halftime that after being beaten on the boards by a much smaller team, the key adjustment for the Hoyas was to stop DePaul from getting so many clear shots. Cain scored on a drive to open the second half, Govan missed a three, then Cain tallied another layup. Coach’s plan was clearly working out well, as our opponents carried over a 21-2 scoring run across the intermission.
Georgetown finally rejoined the stat sheet as Govan grabbed the rebound off a missed jumper from Peak and put it away. Mulmore went coast to coast for a layup and the Hoyas relaxed. That almost always means trouble. We were treated to a deja vu moment that resembled a snippet of Sunday’s game at Creighton, where Govan’s inattention on defense gave up a clear path down the baseline for Cyrus. Jessie did make up those two points with a hooker at the other end and Georgetown was back within one possession. Mulmore’s stifling coverage of Garrett, crisp passing that ended with the ball in Pryor’s hands, and a backdoor cut from Peak were all instrumental in manufacturing a 12-4 run that gave the Hoyas a slim cushion.
Consistency, or lack thereof, has been the team’s downfall since the end of the game against Maryland. On consecutive possessions, Mulmore and Pryor slipped (and turned the ball over) while driving to the basket. Georgetown committed turnovers and failed to capitalize when DePaul returned the favor. Another four-minute scoring drought ensued.
It is worth noting that, in the midst of ineffable frustration and numerous inefficencies, the defensive play of Kaleb Johnson and Mulmore was integral in rendering Garrett scoreless throughout nearly the entire second half. Their contribution, combined with two more Derrickson foul shots and an and-1 (say that three times fast!) from Agau, meant the Hoyas were somehow up by 5 points with four minutes left to play. Whatever defensive strategy Georgetown discussed during the next whistle, it did not involve adapting their coverage to stay on top of the player who had been the Blue Demons’ top scorer thus far. Consequently, the lead was erased when McCallum hit a jumper and a three in quick succession. All tied up, 61-61.
Even if this game had gone to overtime, it would have been a condemnation of the current system and a continuation of a pattern that we know all too well. To the relief of some and chagrin of others, the end came more quickly. The score was tied at 65 and the Hoyas had the ball when John Thompson III called a timeout with 23.7 seconds to go in regulation. One would normally assume that a play would be drawn up, hopefully to bring the clock under 5 seconds before putting the ball in the hands of a wing who has the ability to penetrate and score. What did we see instead?
Govan was left wide open on the perimeter. While he had a clean look at the basket, the sophomore did not wait nearly long enough to take his shot. He airballed a three-point attempt and the Blue Demons regained possession with 4.9 seconds remaining. Billy Garrett inbounded the ball to a teammate, who immediately passed it back to the senior point guard. As he took it nearly end to end, none of the Hoyas made an attempt to slow him down or force a change in direction that would help to run out the clock. Akoy Agau finally stepped in as Garrett approached the basket. The layup missed, but the officials called a foul with 0.2 seconds remaining. Garrett went to the line and drained both freethrows, his first points of the second half, giving DePaul the win by a final score of 67-65.
What does this mean? I have no idea. I recommend that you use the comments section to rant, rave, share where you were in February of 1991 (I was a five year-old kindergartener, blissfully unaware of college basketball), or perhaps start a draft of the epistles many of you will be sending to the administration in the coming weeks.
We are Georgetown. Speak up.