During that special time of year where the plurality of people polled might be either uncertain of the day of the week or inordinately full of cheese — or possibly both — your Georgetown Hoyas headed out to Chicago to face the DePaul Blue Demons, one of four other teams who had thus far gone winless in BIG EAST play. In terms of tethering viewers to reality, it did not help that upon turning to FS2 the screen was displaying what looked like closing credits to a movie. It turns out we had seen this film before, with the Hoyas falling to the Blue Demons by a final score of 83-76.
Having lost the 22 prior consecutive conference games, it was challenging to discern a single predominant emotion heading into this final Hoyas contest of the calendar year. The pithy pre-tipoff banter from the announcing crew was unusually grim. “It’s almost like these two teams are looking in the mirror.” “We promise somebody will win.” “It should be a very interesting game, if for no other reason than the desperation factor.”
It took two full minutes before Georgetown got on the board with a three from Brandon Murray, answering an opening 5-point spree for DePaul. Three early unforced turnovers cost the Hoyas, who trailed 12-5 at the first media break.
Primo Spears and Jay Heath entered the stat sheet to stop the bleeding with back-to-back baskets just as Georgetown found themselves trailing by double digits. Scoring on five consecutive attempts was encouraging with respect to the Hoyas’ offensive prospects for the evening, but the early defensive non-presence at the other end left them treading water. Loose passing and the active hands of the Blue Demons, particularly Umoja Gibson, led to giving up multiple additional turnovers. The damage would have been worse than 9 points if DePaul had converted more readily in transition or from the stripe
All that being said about Georgetown’s performance, DePaul still isn’t great at basketball, per se, so it stayed tight. With 6 minutes remaining in the first half, the Hoyas trailed 31-30. Spears had tallied 8 assists already and Murray began handling the majority of the scoring for Georgetown. Along with a triple from Bryson Mozone, Murray scored 10 of 13 for his team over a 4 minute stretch.
Denver Anglin also came in off the bench, adding in this instance some defensive hustle (or hassle, really) to challenge the Blue Demons’ feisty guards. The freshman grabbed the rebound after Murray executed a strrrrong block to keep DePaul from capitalizing off a Hoyas’ turnover. Unfortunately, he also committed two fouls on Gibson which translated into four easy points for the Blue Demons.
A layup from Mozone with 3:12 once again pulled the Hoyas within a single point, 39-38. Heath nicked a steal for a clear layup with :22 remaining. Unfortunately, this bright moment was sandwiched by Gibson and Javan Johnson continuing their 3-point barrage, including a deflating basket with 6 seconds to play. Georgetown trailed 47-40 at the break.
Murray picked up right where he left off, nailing a three mere seconds into the latter half.
Wahab made 1 of 2 from the line as a palate cleanser and Murray hit another jumper. Jalen Terry answered this with a dunk after getting the steal, then went to the bench with an apparent ankle injury. In a moment that might have gotten testy in a different caliber of game, Yor Anei blocked Wayne Bristol Jr. hard from behind as the Hoya was going for a dunk, but it was ruled clean upon review.
There was 15:00 remaining in the second half when Murray (who else?) bumped his scoring total to a career high 24 points and gave Georgetown their first lead of the game, 53-51, off the assist from Spears.
Terry and Murray traded threes over the next couple of minutes. It was tied 56-56 at the U12, but Murray put the Hoyas back on top from the free throw line once play resumed. Anei converted off a backdoor pass from Da’Sean Nelson, then Bristol drove baseline and spun out of a quick turnaround move to hit for Georgetown at the other end.
Wahab, who had been struggling to score through Anei and over smaller guards for much of the evening, made a pair of FTs to once again put the Hoyas ahead by three. DePaul jumpers from Nelson and Johnson, followed by a breakaway dunk from Nelson again, and suddenly Georgetown trailed by just as many. The Blue Demons had discovered that swarming traps were an effective way to mitigate Murray and it felt like whiplash as DePaul led 64-61 at the 8-minute mark. A dunk from Eral Penn and yet another basket from Terry made it a 10-0 run for the Blue Demons. Georgetown went more than 4 minutes without a FG before Bristol broke the drought.
After coming up empty on an incredibly long and disjointed offensive possession, Wahab was whistled for a foul to trigger the final media timeout with the Hoyas trailing 72-67. They created a turnover out of the break, and Wahab edged into double-double territory with a timely make over Anei. The brief spark of optimism was quelled by a three-pointer from Gibson; Spears answered quickly with a pair of jumpers.
When the Blue Demons called a TO with 1:37 remaining, the Hoyas trailed by only two points, 75-73. Wahab fouled Gibson, who converted both FT attempts; Wahab himself was fouled on the other end, making 1 of 2.
The call on the floor was DePaul ball as the two teams scrambled to collect the rock after Wahab’s miss; a lengthy video review set to the dulcet tones of Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train’ overturned that ruling and possession stayed with the Hoyas with 72 seconds left. This was their opening. Murray drove to the basket and drew the foul, again making 1 of 2. That made it 77-75. He had carried so much of the load throughout this game, but as a team, the Hoyas’ misses from the line were costly and their offense simply was not executing in such a way as to make up ground.
At the other end, Spears fouled Gibson, who hit both FTs. After Murray got stripped, Gibson got the ball again, was fouled again, and improved to 10/10 from the stripe. Georgetown trailed 81-75 with 20 seconds to play.
When all was said and done, the Hoyas fell short by an 83-76 margin for the litany of usual reasons. This is the first time ever that the team has lost three consecutive games to DePaul.
It’s a quick turnaround, with Georgetown heading back home to host Butler for a 6:30 tip on New Year’s Day, scheduled to air on FS1.
Here’s to basketball things looking a bit more like auld lang syne in 2023.