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LINKS: Haggard Hoyas Take Another Step Back in Loss to Xavier

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The final step-back three for Xavier looked a lot like Blair’s alleged traveling...

Xavier v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Georgetown Hoyas (5-11) lost yet another tough one as the Xavier Musketeers (8-8) needed a buzzer beater to finish them in DC on the first Sunday afternoon in March.

Perhaps the desperation of the Big East teams have recently triggered elevated physicality, but a sloppy late-season game was further complicated by some inconsistent refereeing. While Xavier fans have their own gripes, the Hoya-faithful have noticed that Naji Marshall’s step-back, final three looked awfully similar to an earlier-called traveling violation on Jahvon Blair—but you be the judge:

Still, the two biggest shockers of the first half were seeing Mac McClung in actual walking boot on CBS (why now? what took so long to find one?) and observing walk-ons Jaden Robinson and George Muresan play significant early minutes and looking effective at times. With two games left and no indication of improvement in health of Omer Yurtseven or McClung, Hoyas fans have started chanting “Que Sera, Sera” as a temporary replacement for “Hoya Saxa.”

Even undermanned, Georgetown kept it close and showed enough heart and glimpses of a potential ability to put together one last decent run into the conference tournament to keep fans watching with hope. The execution gap to close doesn’t feel as big until you remember the depth issues. Turning Xavier over often is a good step, but there needs to be more scoring off of those 20+ miscues. The offensive lulls can’t happen—when the Hoyas look best the ball moves both inside and outside, be it from penetration or a post feed.

For instance, Timothy Ighoefe is giving his all, but defenders are not always respecting him. Qudus Wahab’s foul trouble goes deeper than just giving free-throw opportunities. Jamorko Pickett needs more off-ball plays and fewer isolation post-ups. Jagan Mosely can’t stop shooting threes after just an 0-3 night. Blair can’t feel pressured to get to 30 every game. Allen needs a big man he can trust to get those assist numbers back up. Effort is not the Hoyas’ issue—picking up the pace to get where it needs to be, while taking care of the ball might not be as simple as it sounds this March

Here are the links:

Hoyas Drop 66-63 Heartbreaker to Xavier - Georgetown University Athletics | GUHOYAS

Georgetown slips to 15-14 overall and 5-11 in BIG EAST play. Xavier improves to 19-10 on the season with an even 8-8 mark in league action.

ON THE RECORD “I thought my guys played hard. They didn’t give up, they kept fighting. We dug a deep hole in the first half but we were able to come back, tie the game with minutes to go and then [Naji Marshall] made that incredible shot.” - Head Coach Patrick Ewing

HOYA HIGHLIGHTS Jahvon Blair led a trio of Hoyas in double figures with 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting including a quartet of 3-pointers. Jamorko Pickett added 12 points and Jagan Mosely tallied 11 to round out those in double figures. Timothy Ighoefe grabbed a career-high seven rebounds to lead the team while Qudus Wahab and Blair each chipped in five. Mosely paced the offense with seven assists to go along with a pair of steals. Georgetown shot 36.8 percent (21-57) from the field and managed 13-of-15 from the charity stripe.

Naji Marshall Buzzer Beater Lifts Xavier Over Georgetown - Xavier University Athletics | GOXAVIER

Another six points from Tyrique Jones included an alley-oop from Paul Scruggs, to put Xavier up 52-44 with 7:09 left in regulation. The Hoyas responded with a quick bucket and a three pointer off a Musketeer turnover to bring the game within one possession and forcing a Xavier timeout. Four more points for Tyrique Jones, scoring Xavier’s last 10 points, gives Xavier a five-point advantage into the final media of the half, 58-53. Georgetown tied the game with a three pointer off a Xavier turnover at 61 with 1:10 left in the game.

On the next possession, Naii Marshall knocked down two free throws but Georgetown tied it again, with a layup under the basket 63-63 with 17 seconds remaining. Naji Marshall took the ball the length of court to connect for a three pointer, giving Xavier the lead with four seconds remaining, forcing Georgetown to use their final timeout. Xavier held on, securing the victory 66-63.

Men’s Basketball Falls Late to Xavier in Physical Contest - The Georgetown Voice | GEORGETOWNVOICE

“Even though we weren’t scoring, they weren’t scoring either,” Ewing said of the first half. “We were doing a pretty good job on the defensive end. We just could not make shots” ...

Georgetown continued to struggle to contain Jones and Marshall, but after back-to-back threes from Pickett and Blair, the Hoyas knotted the game at 61 points with a minute to go. After a shooting foul by Pickett, Marshall converted on a pair of free throws to put his team back up two, but freshman center Timothy Ighoefe responded with a tap-in layup on the other end. With time running out, the ball came to Marshall at the top of the key and he knocked down the clutch triple to put Xavier up three with 4.5 seconds remaining... Needing to dribble the length of the floor, Allen pulled up for a highly contested 3-pointer but missed the potential game-tying attempt.

“The tough part about it is that the same shot that [Marshall] hit, Jahvon Blair hit and they called traveling on it, so it’s a hard pill to swallow,” Ewing said of Marshall’s final shot. “Can’t cry over spilled milk.”

Georgetown, with NCAA tournament hopes disappearing, suffers its fourth straight loss | Washington Post

Timothy Ighoefe’s game-tying putback of an off-balance jumper by Jagan Mosely encapsulated everything admirable about the Hoyas as they have navigated the home stretch of this season without their two best players. Mosely, who didn’t come off the floor Sunday at Capital One Arena, found an inch of space to get off a shot. Ighoefe, the Hoyas’ third-string center who had made his share of freshman mistakes, was finally in the right place at the right time. He grabbed his fifth offensive rebound and bounced right back up to tie the score at 63.

What happened next represented everything that has been frustrating about the woefully undermanned Hoyas lately as they have struggled on defense and with taking advantage of key ­moments.

An ugly game, a clutch 3 and a roadkill: How Xavier escaped with a win over Georgetown | CINCINNATI

”We’ve practiced both, being in that situation,” said Steele, when asked about the decision to not foul. “Number one, Georgetown’s big ... and I was a little bit concerned about blocking them out on a free throw. They have 7-foot guys, we have 6-foot-8 guys. So I was concerned with that. I asked Tyrique and Q (Quentin Goodin), I said, ‘Which do we want to go with?’ I wanted them to have a little bit of ownership with it. They said, hey let’s just get one stop and we knew we were gonna switch all ball screens and make sure they caught the ball going towards our hoop rather than towards theirs and just contest it without fouling and we were lucky, like I said, very fortunate to win today.”

Fortunate might be an understatement. Xavier turned the ball over 23 times. For some context, the Musketeers made 24 field goals, so they nearly averaged one turnover for every field goal they made.

Xavier survives Georgetown, the officials, and themselves to add a vital win to the resume | BANNERSONTHEPARKWAY

In the second half, the two stories that mattered were Tyrique Jones and the refs. The officials called a foul a minute in the second, taking a game that was already pretty poorly executed and robbing it of any rhythm it could have possibly established. Actions in the lane devolved into fistfights, only for touch fouls to get called 30 feet out. Any drive had a coin toss chance of turning into a charge. Xavier wasn’t the victim of home cooking; the officials were just bad.

Tyrique - himself the victim of a celebration-related technical - took over the second half. After heading into the locker room with 2 and 6 on 0-5 from the floor, he ran riot for 16 and 7 on 8-9 shooting in the second. Surrounded by an energentic Georgetown defense, he somehow managed to not draw a foul in the second half, but he put the team on his considerable shoulders any time they could keep the ball long enough to get it in to him.

Despite Tyrique’s efforts, Georgetown’s pressure forced Xavier into a season-high 23 turnovers and allowed the Hoyas to creep back into the game. They completed the comeback when Jahvon Blair stuck a three to tie the game at 61. Naji drew a foul and rolled in a couple of FTs, but Georgetown answered with a tip to tie the game.

Hoyas Lose Heartbreaker to Xavier - Thompson’s Towel | THOMPSONSTOWEL

In total, Sunday’s contest featured almost as many turnovers (43) as made field goals (45). Aren’t you glad this game was nationally televised on CBS? Georgetown’s lack of depth was also tested in the first half. With four of the Hoyas’ five starters recording two fouls before halftime, Ewing was forced to roll with some unconventional lineups. At one point, walk-ons George Muresan and Jaden Robinson were both on the court along with inexperienced freshman center Timothy Ighoefe. The real surprise was how well this patchwork lineup performed. Buckets from both Robinson and Muresan kickstarted a 7-0 Hoyas run to cut Xavier’s lead to three with 6:15 to go until the break. Ighoefe also impressed in 19 minutes of action. He led the Hoyas with seven boards and did a better job than Qudus Wahab in terms of covering Xavier’s Tyrique Jones.

‘Feels like March’: Xavier grinds past Georgetown, and it’s... | THEATHLETIC

But when it came to style points, well, XU was in dire need of finishing school. Georgetown affected XU’s 23 turnovers, but many were entrenched in the same dubious decision-making that has afflicted the team all season. Jones tried to dribble 10 feet from the basket and saw the ball stolen by Timothy Ighoefe. Quentin Goodin passed the ball out of bounds. Jason Carter, situated in one corner, tried a baseline pass to the other corner that hit the bottom of the backboard. Multiple players had multiple offensive fouls and did not quickly adjust to the way officials called the game. The Musketeers controlled the scoreboard most of the game but couldn’t get out of their own way against a team so short-handed that it resorted to playing walk-ons.

Many loved the NBA Jam motif all season, but maybe they should have skipped the one where GU’s top-two weren’t actually playing... or put George and Jaden in the video game...

Press Conference (Ewing at 23:20):

Creighton game: