By Ethical Hoya (@ethicalhoya)
Your Georgetown Hoyas returned from a long Covid-induced break to face off against the Marquette Golden Eagles at the Capital One Center. While the Hoyas started relatively sharply, the lack of practice time over the last three weeks and the last-minute absences of Don Carey and Ryan Mutombo were far too much for the Hoyas to overcome, resulting in a decisive 92-64 loss.
The game began auspiciously enough. Malcolm Wilson converted on two layups, and Kaiden Rice hit one of his patented contested three-point shots. Aminu Mohammed had some difficulty scoring inside early, having two shots turned back by Marquette center Kur Kuath, but the Hoyas moved the ball well and led 9-8 with 15 minutes left in the first half.
The Golden Eagles would take over from that point and would never relinquish the lead. A thunderous Kuath dunk was followed by back-to-back scores from forward Justin Lewis. The Hoyas hung tight only due to Marquette turnovers. One coaching surprise was the early minutes at the center spot for Jalin Billingsley. In a welcome sight for Hoyas fans, Coach Ewing also brought in Kobe Clark for his first real minutes of the season with the Hoyas down 17-13. The pace of the game picked up, with Billingsley finding a dunk off a nice Tyler Beard delivery and Mohammad scoring on back-to-back layups. Kudos if you envisioned a Wilson-Billingsley-Clark-Mohammed-Beard lineup in Big East play.
Marquette then ramped up its intensity on both ends and the Hoyas did not respond well. The Golden Eagles ripped off a 14-0 run, punctuated by consecutive alley-oops to Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Kuath. The game was seemingly unraveling, with the Hoyas down 45-28 with 2 minutes left in the half.
Coach Ewing decided to turn to a Beard-Harris backcourt to end the half and the change immediately paid dividends defensively. A Holloway 3-pointer, two layups by Mohammed, and a technical on Marquette Coach Shaka Smart keyed a 9-0 Georgetown run. After rebounding and shooting poorly, the Hoyas were extremely fortunate to trail only 45-37 at the half.
The Hoyas showed some sound play to begin the second half, once again taking advantage of Marquette turnovers. The Hoyas would bring the game to 4 before a disastrous defensive possession resulted in a 5-point swing. The Hoyas trailed by 8 again with 15 minutes to go in the game and would fail to draw any closer.
A third foul on Holloway led Coach Ewing to turn to the unusual Billingsley-Wilson pairing, and Marquette predictably went on another long run that completely deflated the Capital One faithful. By the time that Coach Ewing changed course, the Hoyas were down 70-48, with just over 11 minutes to play. At one point, the Hoyas struggled to even inbound the ball against Marquette’s full-court defense.
Kobe Clark mercifully ended the Marquette run with a layup off an offensive rebound, but the Hoyas never mounted anything resembling a comeback. The struggled to shoot the ball without Captain Don Carey, and Holloway and Mohammed were the only Hoyas to pose much of a threat to the Marquette defense. The Golden Eagles used much of the second half to provide their bench players with floor time, and the Hoyas offered little resistance at the rim in particular. Final score: 92-64 Marquette.
Although the long layoff undoubtedly hurt the Hoyas, this may have been the most dispiriting Hoyas’ loss of the season. Even in the season opener to Dartmouth, the Hoyas showed heart and offensive efficiency in storming back in the second half. Today, the Hoyas struggled to match Marquette’s intensity for the vast majority of the game and the last 15 minutes or so largely served as a scrimmage for the Golden Eagles. Equally concerning, and potentially portentous for next season, is the Hoyas’ complete lack of offensive efficiency and outside shooting without Carey. The Hoyas shot 4 of 18 from 3 and only 30% overall. Wayne Bristol Jr., anyone?
The Hoyas have six days off until they meet the Butler Bulldogs at Capital One. The good news is that Hoyas fans have basketball back in 2022, and the team will almost certainly regroup and deliver a better performance against the Bulldogs. The bad news is that there are real questions about this team’s ceiling in Big East play, even assuming that Coach Ewing has the entire roster at his disposal.
Until next time. Hoya Saxa.