Tuesday night, Georgetown found yet another dramatic way to lose, squandering a late lead to fall 73-69 at Providence. The Hoyas enjoyed 27 points from Jessie Govan, who matched a career-high; a 5-point lead and the ball with under 2 minutes to play; and momentum from a series of hard-fought, competitive defeats that have buoyed a difficult rebuilding season. But numerous bad decisions late, from clumsy fouls to poor end-of-game execution, gave the game away to the Friars. The loss drops Georgetown to 13-10, 3-9 in conference play.
On their third consecutive road game, Georgetown could have been forgiven for coming out of the gates a bit flat. Instead, the Hoyas continued a recent trend of strong play. Early and often, the Hoyas turned to Govan, who built on a bounceback game against Xavier by scoring 12 of his team’s first 13 points against Providence. The big man found his points rolling, popping, and floating into open space, giving what the defense gave him and making everything in sight.
Soon, the rest of the Hoyas kicked into gear. Trey Dickerson ripped a steal, which he turned into an open-court lay-in, then Jagan Mosely found room in transition for a runner. Jonathan Mulmore manufactured a few points, and Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett each canned threes against the Friar zone to build a ten-point lead. When Pickett canned a one-dribble pull-up to again make the advantage double digits a few minutes later, the Hoyas briefly all looked like their best selves.
But the good-times didn’t last, as Georgetown’s offense went dry. The Hoyas went nearly six minutes between made field goals, and managed just three free throws across the same span. With neither Dickerson nor Mulmore in the game to man the point, Georgetown struggled to initiate offense in the half court, turning the ball over on several possessions and tossing up desperation heaves on others.
Providence chipped away, and the Hoyas’ lead evaporated when Friar wing Alpha Diallo slipped free on a back-cut that led to a lay-in just before the half. Georgetown was able to reclaim a 42-40 lead when Govan buried a triple on a last-second pick-and-pop from Mosely, but the stage was set for a second-half battle.
That battle ensued. The teams swapped small leads as both offenses ground to a halt. Georgetown spent entire possessions trying to work the ball inside, with none of their guards able to generate much penetration to create space offensively. For its part Providence ran hot and cold, at one point missing five straight jumpers and a pair of free throws.
The Hoyas were able to manufacture offense in roughly the same ratio as before the half -- that is, a dollop of Govan and a dash of everyone else. Govan hit a face-up jumper, and fed Kaleb Johnson on a give-and-go cut to the basket. Johnson, Marcus Derrickson, and Blair all hit triples to keep Georgetown afloat before Georgetown leaned on Govan once again. Jessie drew a foul while posting up, burying both ensuing free throws, and then converted two quick post-ups, grabbing consecutive feeds from Pickett and pivoting efficiently for lay-ins to put Georgetown up by three. Four Hoya free-throws made it a five-point Georgetown lead with under two minutes to play.
But, as it has in a number of late-game situations this season, the bottom fell out. Georgetown didn’t contest a Providence three-pointer that Friar forward Isaiah Jackson had approximately Ed Cooley’s entire tenure to line up. When two Friar free throws tied the game, the Hoyas regained possession with 29 seconds to play, apparently poised to hold for the last shot.
Somehow, it ended far worse than could have been imagined. Mosely drove and hoisted the same runner he attempted in the home loss to DePaul, once again missing. This time, instead of waiting until the last second, ensuring that the worst result would be overtime, Mosely shot with 6 seconds remaining, giving Providence the chance at another possession. Friar guard Kyron Cartwright grabbed that opportunity, corralling the rebound, in the process becoming entangled with Govan’s legs and drawing a foul that netted him two go-ahead free-throws.
Still, there were four seconds left, and a glimmer of hope as Georgetown got the ball back. But the Hoyas, apparently misreading 4 as .4, attempted an ill-conceived and even worse-executed half-court pass that found only a pack of Friar defenders, and nary a Georgetown shot.
The loss is the Hoyas’ fourth in a row, all frustrating in varying ways and levels. Three days after yielding a seemingly impossible and unjustified four-point play at Xavier, Georgetown found a new way to lose tonight, frittering away a late lead with a series of self-inflicted wounds, each more dumbfounding than the last. To add salt to the wound, Providence was practically giving this game away, missing several late free throws that kept the Hoyas ahead, albeit temporarily.
There are a lot of positives to take from tonight’s game. Govan was spectacular in matching his career high, making decisive, opportunistic moves around the basket. In the last two games, he’s returned to non-conference form after a slump earlier in conference play. The wings provided timely, if not always consistent, outside shooting. And the defense held firm for much of the second half.
But holy crap rebuilding isn’t supposed to be this hard. Blowout losses here and there, okay. Narrow, hard-fought defeats that offer glimpses of future improvement, okay. This is at least Georgetown’s fourth spectacular loss this season, the second this week following earlier, dramatic fall-from-ahead overtime defeats to Syracuse and Butler at home.
The good news, if there is any, is that the Hoyas are still fighting. They’re playing, adjusted for competition, perhaps their best basketball of the season, even if the last couple of minutes of any given game don’t bear that out. And there are still plenty of opportunities to turn all this effort into wins. Georgetown has home dates upcoming against Seton Hall, Xavier, and this Providence team, with a trip to Butler sandwiched in. Most of those games are at home, and all are against teams the Hoyas have competed against already this season. For all of our sakes, it’d just be fun to win one of these.