The refrain had become that “sooner or later” Georgetown would find a way to hang on and grab a victory in one of these close games. It happened this afternoon, as the Hoyas upset the Seton Hall Pirates 83-80, snapping a 4-game losing streak and inching up to 4-9 in Big East play (14-10 overall). The headliner of this contest was Marcus Derrickson, who turned in a beast-like performance that included 22 points and 18 rebounds. The shot we will all remember—from this game and likely from this season—is his three pointer that broke the tie, giving the Hoyas a lead with four seconds remaining. The Pirates ran one final play that Georgetown struggled to defend, but as time expired, the ball took a friendly bounce for what feels like the first time all season. It was a win.
It was a win, though the team had to fight past the ever-present sharpshooting opponent and self-inflicted adversity to get there. The Hoyas controlled both the tip and the tempo early in the game. Jessie Govan took on Angel Delgado in the paint and drew an early foul on Khadeen Carrington. Kaleb Johnson got off to a flashy start, hitting a jumper then using his speed to drive directly at Delgado and finish high off the glass. Jonathan Mulmore’s most important contribution was his 4 first half assists, but he popped in a runner of his own from the top of the key. Georgetown was capitalizing on the combination of cold shooting from Seton Hall and their own steady defense.
Meanwhile, Derrickson was establishing himself down low. He corralled a Jamorko Pickett miss, drew the double team, then fed it back to the freshman who cut inside and finished the layup. Doc also began making his own plays, not shying away from contact with Delgado and Ismael Sanogo, proving that the lethargic Tuesday performance was an anomaly and that the post moves he showed off against Xavier were for real. Out of his career-high 18 rebounds, 13 were on the defensive end; he was single-handedly taking shots away from Seton Hall while matched up against two of the best rebounders in the Big East.
The players were struggling to stay in front of their man when playing transition defense - and in this case, I am referring to the Seton Hall players. Mulmore used his speed and agility to shake off Carrington and hit a runner with less than four seconds remaining on the shot clock. Jagan Mosely came in off the bench and navigated himself a path to the basket that led directly around Desi Rodriguez. When MD blocked a baseline drive by Powell, quick ball movement on the fast break left the Pirates effectively motionless as a sequence of passes flew from Jahvon Blair to Trey Dickerson and finally to Johnson for the reverse finish under the basket.
Govan was quietly neutralizing Delgado on defense and exploiting his limited mobility on the offensive end. The senior center had disclocated his knee (!) during the Pirates’ recent game against Marquette, and his usual pop and lateral quickness were lacking. Jessie was able to prevent clean looks and beat Delgado to rebounds; these tip-outs enabled the Hoyas’ guards to get out in transition. When Kevin Willard gave his big man a breather and he was matched up against less experienced players, Govan showed off his range, nailing a smooth long jumper directly over Eron Gordon.
Georgetown matched and exceeded the 10 point lead they had during these teams’ first meeting in Newark, ending the first half on a 12-4 run, up 46-33. That lead would increase to 50-33, a 17 point spread, after Seton Hall turned it over on their first two possessions after the break. The Hoyas were flying, and so was Pickett, who came soaring in from the weak side for another block that left the suddenly-roaring Capital One Arena crowd a little weak in the knees.
It’s not a question of if this team is going to make mistakes- they will. The uncertainty lies in when it will happen and how they will respond. The slide began subtly enough. Derrickson and Govan put up a couple of shots that rolled around the rim and decided not to drop. Then, Powell hit two consecutive shots from behind the arc, seemingly unperturbed by the Hoyas defenders in his personal space. Delgado made only his second jumper of the game. Rodriguez got revenge on the Georgetown backcourt that had left him in the dust during the opening half, driving directly to the basket at full speed for a nearly-uncontested layup. (Then, he did it again.)
The Pirates went on a 14-1 run as the Hoyas went more than three minutes without a field goal, a drought that Pickett finally ended as he came off a screen and buried a three. The back and forth began. When Desi dunked after capitalizing off Georgetown’s lax perimeter passing and turned it into a one possesson game, it was once again Pickett who answered. Another loose perimeter play by the Hoyas became a turnover, and Powell took it all the way to the basket. With his team unable to score in transition, Derrickson once again asserted himself. He bailed them out with a long three pointer from the top of the key on one possession, and soon after that he drew the fourth foul on Carrington during a (successful) scramble for a rebound around the midway point of the second half.
While the Pirates’ senior guard was on the bench and Cale replaced him, Blair hit Mosely with a pass as the sophomore was driving the baseline, then Mosely slipped it to Govan for a short hook. Blair was riding high again on the next possession when he made all three freebies after being fouled shooting a three in transition...only to blow his defensive assignment and give up an open three to Powell mere seconds later. Coach Ewing was not impressed. The visible momentum was with the Pirates, but the Hoyas retained their composure. Soon after the Seton Hall fans in attendance were celebrating their first lead of the game, cheering for a Rodriguez dunk and a block by Sanogo, Georgetown tallied three straight and-1 buckets. Dickerson, a 58% freethrow shooter, got the whistle and made a pair. Mosely threw a 3⁄4 court pass to Pickett, who showed off a bit of strength in finishing the contested dunk.
The teams continued to trade baskets. A three from Powell, a three from Pickett. Derrickson looped one in over Rodriguez, then Powell circled the entire backcourt to get in position for his 6th three pointer of the half. Dickerson wove his way through traffic to turn Pickett’s airball into a layup. Govan grabbed the rebound after Carrington missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Georgetown had the ball with just under two minutes to play in regulation.
At this point, the game ground to a halt. Pickett missed a jumper and Govan watched the loose deflection fly out of bounds, having ever-so-slightly ricocheted off of Delgado’s fingertips. The ruling was Hoyas ball, but all three referees went to the monitor. The trio stood there for about what felt like hour, probably catching up on the nightly news and checking out some Winter Olympics highlights. When they finally reached a verdict, the call was upheld. After surviving a dangerous inbounds play, the rock ended up in the hands of Jessie Govan, who calmly buried a jumper from the elbow. Georgetown was up 80-75 with 1:13 remaining.
Out of the timeout, Seton Hall went to Powell, who drove for the layup and completed an old-fashioned 3-point play. With a two point advantage and 1:04 on the clock, the Hoyas got it back. Dickerson dribbled at center court for an eternity, shot clock counting down, before passing the ball off to Derrickson. His attempted shot was blocked by Desi Rodriguez and Carrington turned that steal into a layup. The score was tied, 80-80, when the Hoyas regained possession with 31 seconds on the clock.
Other games this season have blurred together into a mixture of dread and deja vu, but nothing up until this point had ever seemed so unbelievably familiar as watching the previous play unfold again. Dickerson dribbling the ball just past center court. The clock ticking down. Driving towards the basket but encountering Delgado, wheeling to the outside and finding Mosely waiting in the corner. The ball skips from Dickerson to Mosely and back to Derrickson just beyond the arc. Watching, waiting, hoping as this time, MD gets his shot up.
It goes in. Hoyas back on top, 83-80
The whistle sounded as the ball left Derrickson’s hands- the opportunity for a 4-point play. He does not make the free throw, and Seton Hall calls timeout with 4.2 seconds left on the clock. Unsurprisingly, the play that was drawn up was designed to put the ball in the hands of Myles Powell. Somewhat surprisingly, Georgetown did not have someone wrapped around him like a sweater. However, Jamorko Pickett did close out and Powell’s shot was mercifully off the mark.
Georgetown made mistakes, but the team has also made progress and those efforts were (finally) rewarded tonight. They turned the ball over only 13 times. They assisted on 22 of 32 field goals. They got that elusive victory. The Hoyas are back on the road again this week, traveling to Butler. Tipoff is set for 6:30pm on Tuesday, February 13th, and the game will air on CBSSN.
But that’s not important right now. Enjoy this moment. Bask in the afterglow of the moment and watch this shot a few (hundred) more times.