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Hoyas sunk by Pirates, 78-62

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Mac McClung scores 20, wins fans’ undying allegiance in his return

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Seton Hall Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Your Georgetown Hoyas continued with their BIG EAST opening road trip with some late night action against the Seton Hall Pirates tonight in Newark, falling by a score of 78-62. This game was always going to be one of the most challenging away games of the conference slate, with the dominant potential of Myles Powell hanging over any plan of attack. Things looked particularly grim until—mere hours before tipoff—it was announced that Mac McClung would be returning to the lineup for the Hoyas.

With their normal starters back in action, it felt for the first few minutes as though things had returned to a comfortable and functional equilibrium for Georgetown. Mac opened up the scoring with a driving layup high off the glass, wearing rec specs and showing no fear. At that point we could be forgiven for thinking that an easy layup from Romaro Gill off the feed from Quincy McKnight would be the exception rather than the rule that would lead the SHU big man to an improbable 17-point performance. Mac fed Terrell Allen for a three-pointer, and it was apparent how much better the team could function with the sophomore guard on the court. Jagan Mosely, as we have come to expect, drew the unenviable task of guarding Myles Powell, and acquitted himself admirably in this regard; the likely BIG EAST POY went 1-for-6 and only scored 3 points in the first half.

HOWEVER. (There is always a “however.”) The recognition that one player is an offensive threat that needs to be neutralized does not mean that anyone should be exempt from scouting and properly planning for the opposing team’s other players. Omer Yurtseven picked up a couple of early fouls, but there is no excuse for what Gill was allowed to contribute inside this evening. Additionally, the perimeter defense and rotations showed a lack of preparation. In the final two meetings between Georgetown and Seton Hall last season, Myles Cale scored solidly into double figures (14 and 17 points, respectively). He was not an unknown quantity; this is a solid contributor for whom there should be a strategy. Tonight, he leveraged screens and took advantage of a hot hand to go 5/6 from beyond the arc in the first half alone. Some of those shots were well-defended; others were not.

Allowing your opponent to score so readily is especially problematic when you yourself are not making effective offensive decisions. Georgetown managed assists on only two of their baskets in the first half, unable to get the ball into the hands of the correct personnel. Additionally, the frontcourt was not playing with the appropriate level of aggression (or assertiveness, if you prefer) to create the variety of high-percentage shots needed to keep the Hoyas in this game. Yurtseven and Jamorko Pickett were hesitant to put the ball on the floor and face up against Gill or Jared Rhoden, frequently settling for fadeaway jumpers far from the basket. There was an all-too-familiar lengthy scoring drought late in the first half during which McKnight’s freethrows and Cale’s long-range bombs helped the Pirates toward their 41-24 halftime advantage.

Georgetown came out with better organization and execution in the second half. After forcing a turnover, Mac hit Allen in transition for the layup. Another turnover resulted in a three for McClung. In the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Pirates coughed the ball up a half-dozen times. Gill put away an alley-oop and Powell stripped Allen for an easy breakaway bunny, but the Hoyas were still gaining ground. Jamorko Pickett hit a long two in transition. Mosely converted one steal into a driving layup through Powell, then redirected a defensive rebound into Mac’s hands for an easy bucket. Yurtseven hit a runner, capping off a 9-0 run for the Hoyas.

McKnight’s triple ended that sequence, but Georgetown retained the momentum and capitalized on the quicker rhythm. McClung pulled a spin move in the lane and sunk a very pretty floater. A dunk by Ike Obiagu was followed by a layup from Jahvon Blair. When Pickett got the roll on a driving basket over Anthony Nelson, the Pirates’ lead had been cut from 21 to 11. With 8:28 remaining, Seton Hall was up 61-51.

Then, the inevitable happened- Powell could no longer be contained. He went on a personal 10-0 run to put the game out of reach. As the Hoyas hopes were being trampled upon like the sodden pretzel wrappers that clog the gutters outside Penn Station, there was a bright spot worth mentioning. Qudus Wahab was playing with energy and tenacity, singlehandedly creating four chances for his teammates on a single possession. The freshman would finish the night with 8 rebounds and a block.

While the ineffectual defensive maneuvering and baffling aversion to facing up on offense are the tactical storylines that will require analysis and resolution if Georgetown wants to win between now and March, the scuffle towards the end of the game is what is going to get the most attention and dissection.

McClung had been matching up with Quincy McKnight on the defensive end, blocked the Pirate’s shot, and then directed a comment towards him while walking from behind the baseline towards the huddle during a stoppage in play. McKnight responded by gesturing toward the scoreboard. Words continued to be exchanged, though the situation did not escalate until Romaro Gill reached across and shoved Mac, who wheeled around and responded instantaneously. His teammates mobilized to ensure that the two sides remained separate, with Jahvon Blair, PIckett, and Chuma Azinge steering him away from the crowd while Jagan Mosely steadfastly acted as a one-man barrier between Georgetown, Seton Hall, and even the referee while Coaches Ewing and Orr roared the rest of the roster back towards the bench.

As a result of the skirmish, four players who left the Georgetown bench and two players who had left the Seton Hall bench were ejected. Offsetting technical fouls were assessed to McKnight and McClung. Gill, the person who actually shoved another player, was not penalized in any way. Play continued.

What happened in the final three minutes? Yurtseven finally faced up and drew a foul. Mosely put down a thunderous dunk in his final game at home in Jersey. Blair drained a three. For the second game in a row, the Hoyas finished down by 16.

Next up, Georgetown finally gets a home game, hosting St. John’s for a 6:30pm tip from Cap One. Here’s hoping they can stop the slide and get their first BIG EAST win.

Hoya Saxa.