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View from the Student Section: Gut Punch

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NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Georgetown Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight season, DePaul left the nation’s capital with a win against Georgetown. This year’s edition came in heartbreaking fashion, as star of the night Eli Cain drained a tough jumper with less than eight seconds on the clock to put DePaul up 74-73 and sink the Hoyas to 13-7 (3-6) halfway through Big East play. Georgetown was at times completely unstoppable and at times shockingly inefficient; their level of play oscillated between dominant and dreadful.

For the second time in five days, Jamorko Pickett and Marcus Derrickson led the way for the Hoyas offensively. Pickett followed up his strong Saturday outing by increasing his career high to 19 points while also corralling 8 rebounds. Derrickson, in a similar fashion to his performance against St. John’s, started slowly. However, he poured in 20 of his 23 points in the second half and was the catalyst behind a furious 16-0 run that saw the Hoyas erase a 14-point deficit early in the second period.

Surprisingly, this run came with a Jessie Govan-less lineup on the floor. In addition to the aforementioned duo, Jagan Mosely also significantly contributed to the big run, as he scored or assisted on all 16 points. In particular, DePaul’s man defense struggled to stop a Mosely-Derrickson pick-and-pop. However, after a timeout midway through the second half, the Blue Demons switched back to a 2-3 zone that gave Georgetown significant issues throughout the first half. The change effectively cooled the Hoyas offense, as they managed just 13 points over the last 10 minutes of action. Even when Govan was reintroduced late in the game, the Hoyas were unable to pull away before Cain’s heroics.

As a student who has seen both heartbreaking losses to the DePaul up close, this game was particularly frustrating to lose because it felt extremely winnable. Cain is a quality player who had been a strong second option to Billy Garrett, Jr. in the past, but he has struggled significantly with his shot throughout the year. This has led to the emergence of transfers Max Strus and Marin Maric, who have played much better and become focal points of DePaul’s offense. However, on a night where the transfers were held to a combined 27 points on 10-30 shooting, it was the forgotten man Cain who undoubtedly had his strongest outing of the season.

It was much to my dismay that the student section was effectively reduced to one side of the court again – I much prefer sitting on the Georgetown bench side. However, for what we lacked in size, I felt we made up for in energy. Despite the end result, we were yet again rewarded with another entertaining game and, from my perspective, sensed we provided a boost throughout the second half. Student attendance is still largely a work in progress – as was especially evidenced when I arrived to the Villanova game less than an hour early and still managed to secure front row seats – but the energy is starting to get there. Georgetown’s remaining home opponents could all make the NCAA Tournament, so I expect turnout to improve for the remainder of the season.

Georgetown’s remaining nine games – perhaps among the toughest stretches in the country this season – will be a daunting six week test for the young Hoyas and will certainly lead to dozens of snarky Jeff Goodman tweets. While any rational fan won’t expect the Hoyas to dominate over the next month, hopefully we can see flashes of brilliance and maybe even an upset or two from a core group that largely will return next season. These past two home games have finally given us the Pickett breakout we were hoping for and have shown that the Hoyas can be successful without Govan at times. On Saturday night in Omaha, if Georgetown can withstand a barrage of three-pointers from Creighton early in the game, they may just have a shot.