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ALMOST HEAVEN: Hoyas Relinquish Challenge to No. 11 West Virginia

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Georgetown played 34 solid minutes until fouls and turnovers caught up

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The Georgetown Hoyas lost to the No. 11 West Virginia Mountaineers, 80-71, at McDonough Arena. The Hoyas showed tremendous hustle and effort, especially in a solid first half, before 9-0 run after the game was tied 62-62 with 6:10 left. WVU turned up the defensive pressure, Hoyas had some foul trouble, Huggins put his big man back in, and Patrick Ewing’s crew could not maintain the challenge.

Guard Myles McBride led the Mountaineers with 17 points (5-9, 2-3 3PT) and 7 assists. Junior center stud Derek Culver was limited to 18 minutes with foul trouble but still scored 14 points and 9 rebounds.

Jahvon Blair led the Hoyas with 19 points (7-16, 5-12 3PT) in 38 minutes. Jamorko Pickett had 11 points (4-9, 3-7 3PT) and 8 rebounds in 30 minutes, due to his 4 fouls. Wahab also had foul trouble, but scored 9 points (3-7) and grabbed 9 boards in 23 minutes. Carey also had 9 points and Harris scored 8 with 8 assists. Chudier Bile scored 10 points (4-10, 1-4 3PT) in 18 minutes.

For the game, Georgetown shot 25-62 (40% FG) from the field and 11-30 (36.7% 3PT). The Mountaineers shot 26-64 (40.6% FG) from the field and 6-17 (35.% 3PT) from three for the game. The much-spotlighted rebound battle tied at 43 with WVU leading offensive rebounds 11-13. The Hoyas lost the turnover battle 15-5, and WVU took advantage with 21 points off of turnovers.

Whether the issue was fouls or decision making, Georgetown just couldn’t close those last 6 minutes, finishing on the bad end of a 17-4 run.

Patrick Ewing tapped Jalen Harris, Don Carey, Jahvon Blair, Jamorko Pickett, and Qudus Wahab to start for the third straight game. Bob Huggins started Derek Culver, Miles McBride, Sean McNeil, Oscar Tshiebwe, and Emmett Matthews for their fifth game.

Wearing their blue jerseys, GU started hot with an 8-2 run, but let WVU come back 7-0. Georgetown looked like a different team than the gang who lost to Navy, showing solid defense and rebounding well. WVU’s Culver had two quick fouls and Huggins only let him play 4 minutes in the first half, scoring 3 on 1-2 shooting and hitting his and-one free-throw. McBride stepped up with 11 points (3-5 FG, 1-2 3PT) and 3 assists. WVU had some one-man pressure as either Harris brought up the ball.

For the Hoyas in the first half, Blair led with 8 points (3-7, 2-4 3PT), with Bile scoring 7 points (3-7, 1-4 3PT), Pickett with 6 points (2-5 3PT only), and Harris with 3 points (all free-throws) and 4 assists. Timothy Ighoefe had 2 big blocks.

At the end of the half, the Hoyas were up 34-32. Georgetown shot 11-30 (36.7%) from the field and 6-18 (33% 3PT) from three for the half. The Mountaineers shot 10-32 (31.3% FG) from the field and 3-13 (23% 3PT) from three for the half. A big reason the Hoyas were in the ballgame was that GU took the edge on rebounds 26-21. WVU only had 3 second-chance points and 3 offensive rebounds. GU had 4 offensive rebounds and 6 second-chance points. WVU only had 3 turnovers, while Georgetown had 7 in the half.

Culver came out hot to start the second half, showing his value for Huggins’ team. Before his third foul, with 16:30 left, Culver was the recipient of a Wahab block that led to a Jalen Harris dunk in transition. Georgetown led 48-43 at the media timeout with 14:49 left.

Blair had some big buckets with two threes and a sweet floater in the lane. WVU went on a 5-0 run to make it 50-49, Georgetown, before Ewing called timeout around 13 minutes. Ewing kept the reserves in, with Bile and Ighoefe, and WVU took the lead 54-50 before a Jalen Harris three brought the Hoyas back within one before the media timeout with 11:21 left. Wahab came back in, but Bile played over Pickett with 4 fouls. Culver rejoined the game with 3 fouls.

As the announcers were talking about the run WVU has been on while Pickett was on the bench, the senior wing came back in and hit a three to go up 57-54. Culver and Tshiebwe each made a bucket in the paint and WVU took the lead 58-57 before the media timeout with 8 minutes left.

Blair missed a three as the shot clock dwindled but Dante Harris grabbed the long rebound. Harris fed the ball to Ighoefe for a huge dunk (and chin up), making the and-one free throw. The freshman Harris did bail WVU with a foul on the other end. Blair couldn’t draw the foul on the other end, after a tough defensive possession for the Mountaineers. Pickett hit a baby hook after an offensive rebound and Sherman answered with a go up 65-62 with about 5 minutes left. Carey fumbled an inbounds and turned it over. Ighoefe picked up his fifth foul with 4:52, having 5 points and 7 rebounds. Pickett turned the ball over with a bad entry pass and on the other end Wahab contested a layup, leaving Culver open for a put-back layup. Ewing called a 30-second timeout, extended into a media timeout. WVU, on a 7-0 run in the last minute, was up 62-69 with 4:24 left.

Hoyas looked deflated. Harris had a beautiful drive and missed an open lay-in. Bile got a steal and layup to give the Hoyas their first field goal in several minutes. Blair got snuffed on a transition three attempt as Culver came running back. WVU led 64-71 before Matthews hit a three to go up by 10. Culver showed his best moves in grabbing a rebound over Wahab and getting an easy jumper. Blair missed a three and Georgetown started fouling. Blair hit a garbage-time three to make the final score 71-80.

WVU won the second half 48-37. Georgetown shot 14-32 (44% FG) from the field and 5-12 (42% 3PT) from three for the second half. The Mountaineers shot 16-32 from the field and 3-4 (3PT%) from three for the second half. WVU made their hay with 14 second chance points on 10 offensive rebounds and 14 points off GU’s 8 turnovers. The Hoyas only had 2 points off of WVU’s two turnovers but did have 11 second chance points with 7 offensive rebounds. WVU was 13-20 from the line, while the Hoyas were 4-5 from the charity stripe. Culver had 11 points and 9 rebounds in 14 minutes of the second half.

The Hoyas held their own in the first half and even looked solid during the second half until Pickett’s foul trouble. Culver coming back may have been the difference down the stretch but McBride’s good decision making contrasted well with GU’s troubles in changing speeds. Ewing’s bench looked decent at times, but couldn’t quite step up in wake of Wahab and Pickett’s foul trouble.

Overall, the end result was as expected, but the level of play from Georgetown was a breath of fresh air after the Navy loss. Patrick Ewing had the team prepared and psyched up. Defense and rebounding were much improved, at least for 34 minutes. There are no moral victories, and this one wouldn’t even qualify, but Hoyas fans should take some solace at the competitiveness and fight of this Georgetown squad.