Once again, the Hoyas could not hang onto a slim lead in the final minutes, extending their losing streak to 4 games. An empty feeling of disappointment is exactly what you expect from the end of a cold February night in Newark, NJ, and tonight's performance was a microcosm of everything that is frustrating to fans about this season. 30 games in, the team has proven that they are capable of everything except consistency. Seton Hall was in a 4-way tie for 4th place in the conference going into tonight, sitting squarely on the bubble and jockeying for position in next week's Big East Tournament. In order to come away with a win tonight, the Hoyas needed to limit turnovers, play vigilant defense and win the rebounding battle.
It was a close game early, with the usual suspects for both squads making their presence known. Georgetown was most effective when they pushed the pace. As we know, life is good for the Hoyas when L.J. Peak is finishing his layups and Rodney Pryor can hit multiple early transition threes. They occasionally struggled to get clean looks from the halfcourt offense, though coming out of the U16 Peak did find Jessie Govan for an easy layup. After suffering a separated shoulder last weekend against St. John’s, Jagan Mosely made an unexpected appearance. The freshman, playing for the first time in front of a hometown crowd, immediately grabbed a rebound. Akoy Agau also checked in and backed down the defender in the post to earn himself a basket.
On the other end of the floor, Angel Delgado and Desi Rodriguez were not getting free, but the much-improved duo managed to finish even when Georgetown's forwards maintained tight defensive position. Ismael Sanogo was singlehandedly outrebounding the Hoyas at one point in the first half, giving the Pirates second, third, and even fourth chances on every possession. Repeated resets of the offense slowed the pace of the game considerably and if you had “scoring drought” on tonight’s bingo card, take a drink. After starting out 6/8 from the field, Seton Hall missed on their next six attempts and the Hoyas grabbed the lead.
It seemed as though Peak had shaken off his lackluster weekend performance; the junior racked up 9 points before the U8 media break. When Bradley Hayes resurrected his hook shot (twice) late in the first half, things were looking up. Then the usual errors began to pop up. A slow rotation while Georgetown was in zone defense left Rodriguez wide open for a three. 6’6” Michael Nzei grabbed a rebound over 7-foot Hayes. By the time Khadeen Carrington converted the layup off a clean steal from Peak and Rodriguez buried yet another three, the Hoyas’ heads were spinning and the Pirates had gone on a 19-5 run. The home team had a 38-30 advantage at halftime.
Marcus Derrickson was rebounding well and showing tenacity in the paint, using a drop step to get the basket and-1 over Nzei. Unfortunately, 3 fouls apiece sent Pryor and Derrickson to the bench for large stretches. Reggie Cameron, another New Jersey native, mitigated the effects of his teammates’ foul trouble by coming off the bench and holding things together up front. The senior hit a three, was fouled while shooting another three and - in what may have been the most visually impressive play of his time in a Georgetown uniform - cut towards the basket and accepted a pass from Govan, burying the fadeaway jumper from a tough angle. These contributions, along with four rebounds and a steal while being whistled for zero fouls in 24 minutes, were critical to the Hoyas ability to hang in there (and make for a pretty nice personal stat line).
After struggling to contain the Pirates early, Georgetown was rebounding more effectively in the second half and had capitalized on the contributions of an extended bench to regain the lead. Back-to-back baseline drives by Rodriguez and Carrington were matched by two dexterous layups from Derrickson, who managed 9 points in the second half. All of this was for naught, however, as the final two minues featured turnovers on three consecutive possessions followed by failure to corral a truly critical offensive rebound. This forced the Hoyas to foul with 18 seconds remaining; Carrington made them both and Seton Hall had a three point lead.
Georgetown brought the ball across halfcourt and Jagan Mosely called a timeout with 14.6 seconds on the clock. When play resumed, an ingenious scheme involving multiple handoffs and the erratic shuffling of players ended with Pryor launching an NBA three that bounced off the top of the backboard as time expired. With a final score of 62-59, Seton Hall swept the season series against Georgetown.
The Hoyas are now 5-12 in conference play (14-16 overall) and are locked into 9th place in the Big East. Their final regular season game is coming up on Saturday, when they will host #2 Villanova at the Verizon Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 12pm on FOX.
Note: For those who are planning to be in DC for the game, this will be Senior Day. Graduating players, managers and their families are usually honored starting around 11:30am. If you can, show up and give them a round of applause. Win or lose, these guys work hard and Georgetown fans should show their appreciation. Hoya Saxa.