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Agony in Anaheim: Hoyas Funked in the Wooden Legacy Tournament, falling 77-74 to St. Joe's

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NCAA Basketball: Wooden Legacy-Georgetown vs Saint Josephs Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

(Recap by @EthicalHoya, but yours truly is currently struggling to fix the byline.)

Your Georgetown Hoyas followed their loss to the San Diego State Aztecs by falling to a plucky St. Joe’s Hawks team 77-74 in the consolation game of the Wooden Legacy this evening. With a long flight home from California looming and more daunting matchups approaching, the Hoyas absolutely needed a decisive win against St. Joe’s. Unfortunately, the Hoyas scuffled the entire first half and were unable to complete a second half comeback. While there were a few bright spots, this was a bad loss to an unexceptional Hawks team. St. Joe’s sharp shooter Taylor Funk led the Hawks with 29 points and appeared untroubled by the Hoyas defense all evening.

The Hoyas started off by the game by turning St Joe’s over and a mid-range jumper from star point guard, Dante Harris. The teams traded empty possessions before St Joe’s Graduate Transfer center Ejike Obinna navigated around Timothy Ighoefe for a layup. Neither team shot well early on (that would change), but the Hoyas were aggressive on the offensive boards, with Ighoefe converting on a putback before St Joe’s answered via a Taylor Funk corner three. Some lax transitional defense led to another Obinna layup. Rice drew the Hoyas even 7-7 with a deep three before the first TV timeout.

The shooting improved after the break, with Funk hitting another three and Ighoefe showing nice footwork on a hook shot. Coach Ewing turned to his bench and received an unexpected contribution in the form of a Ryan Mutombo three-pointer and layup off of a nice dish from Aminu Mohammed. St Joe’s nevertheless maintained a slim 15-14 lead at the 11-minute mark.

The Hoyas continued to struggle with their shooting and trailed 27-16 after Funk and swingman Jordan Hall hit back-to-back threes, culminating a 12-0 run. Mohammed finally broke the drought by hitting one of two free throws after which the Hoyas wisely turned to the press, leading to a turnover and Harris layup. Another patented Harris mid-ranger cut St Joe’s lead to eight.

The press continued to prove effective with Jalin Billingsley almost coming away with a steal off of the inbounds. Unfortunately, St. Joe’s adjusted, and Funk hit his fourth three pointer off the half, extending the lead to 32-21. The Hoyas continued to show defensive energy but could not overcome their marksmanship. The Hoyas shot 30% in the first half and trailed 36-26 to the Hawks.

The Hoyas displayed improved half-court defense and shooting after half-time, with a Rice floater and three-pointer bookending two Mohammed free throw, leading to a 7-0 run. The Hawks stopped the run via another Funk three and some solid post work from Obinna, leading Coach Ewing to call a timeout with 16 minutes left in the half. Ewing made the surprising decision to turn to sophomore forward Colin Holloway for the first time, and the decision paid dividends as Holloway drove for a layup off the glass. The Hoyas continued to fight on the offensive glass but found themselves down nine after Hall’s third three pointer of the game.

Rice’s hot shooting kept the Hoyas in the game and a nice steal and layup from Harris woke the slumbering Hoya-friendly ground. The Hoyas would eventually take the lead, 54-53 after two massive blocks from Ighoefe and a very welcome Carey three pointer, only to be answered by Funk’s seventh three of the night. The Hoyas continued to fight before another Funk three shifted the momentum yet again and led to a 7-0 Hawks run. Rice responded with a three and nifty lay-up, tightening the game to 66-64. Unfortunately, St. Joe’s took over down the stretch, with Jordan Hall’s passing the difference. Rice’s bank three with 29.3 seconds left and some missed St. Joe’s free throws gave the Hoyas some hope with the score 74-72, but a bad Carey turnover ended the Hoyas hopes. Holloway’s final desperation attempted three was blocked, ending the game at 77-74 which leaves the all-time series tied at 17.

The Hoyas had excellent performances from Harris and Rice and some solid contributions from Holloway and Ighoefe. Unfortunately, most of the other Hoyas struggled on a night that Patrick Ewing kept to a shorter rotation. Star freshman Aminu Mohammed failed to score from the field and even found himself blocked at the rim by Funk with two minutes left. Individual performances aside, this is simply not a very good team right now.

Where do the Hoyas go from here?

The “young team” refrain only goes so far, especially as Georgetown’s talented freshmen barely played against the Hawks (save for Mohammed). This is a team in desperate search of an identity that continues to make the same mistakes over and over again, especially on the defensive end. It may be too soon to write off the season, but right now, Hoyas fans are neither seeing good play nor improvement from their younger players. Let’s hope that the team comes up with some answers on the long trip home.

The team will have a few well-deserved days off to regroup before playing a tough Longwood team at the Capital One Arena on Tuesday at 7pm, with the game set to air on FS2. Until then - Hoya Saxa.