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THE OCHO: Pirates Hand Hoyas Eighth Conference Loss, 70-63

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Donald Carey: 15 points | Mohammed: 14 | Harris & Rice: 12 | Mutombo: 6 reb/3blk

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

If a team falls in the swamp and there’s nobody there to see it, does it still count against their conference record? Your Georgetown Hoyas came up short against the Seton Hall Pirates tonight in DC by a score of 70-63. Donald Carey led all scorers with 15 points, Aminu Mohammed dropped 14, and Dante Harris & Kaiden Rice added a dozen apiece. Ryan Mutombo had 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks, with those latter two categories creating effective interior defense that the team has been sorely lacking. (Note: Was it really only 3 blocks? It felt like more.) The team dropped to 0-8 in conference play in a game that was frustratingly, devastatingly winnable.

The teams may have looked a bit different during the pregame shootaround. As part of honoring Black History Month and in partnership with the Black Fives, BIG EAST schools are representing different historical teams to highlight their significance, celebrating black athletes and coaches from earlier in the 20th century – the pre-NBA era – to draw attention to their integral role in the growth of basketball in the US. Georgetown’s warmups dressed our guys in the colors of the Washington Bears; Seton Hall represented the Owl Field Club which was based in Newark, NJ.

SHU was missing Bryce Aiken for the 4th game in a row as he recovers from a concussion; the Pirates were also without Brandon Weston off the bench. Georgetown is searching for their first win of conference play, in the middle of a stretch where it feels as though they are playing every other day for weeks on end to make up games postponed due to the COVID pause. If the Hoyas were hoping for a more welcoming environment after enduring a series of games on the road, Capital One did not deliver. The smattering of voices and squeak of shoes echoed hollowly around the near-empty arena.

Aminu Mohammed got the Hoyas on the board early, but it was another 2 minutes before Kadary Richmond got the Pirates’ first basket. The pace was grinding, with errant shots and turnovers (by both squads) keeping the score low. A floater from Timothy Ighoefe and a long contested three from captain Donald Carey put Georgetown ahead.

A forced turnover created offense from defense, with Carey bringing it up, hitting Dante Harris (wearing an AI-inspired headband) who drove to the basket and then fed it to Aminu in traffic for the complicated finish. The Hoyas were up 12-9 with 13:00 on the clock in the first, though that lead was erased by a triple from Jared Rhoden on the next series. Coach Ewing’s frustration with the team’s defense, fouls & rebounding execution resulted in a head-scratching lineup out of the media break. That group did not cede much ground, and it was a nice freshman moment when Tyler Beard found Ryan Mutombo inside for a dunk.

The speed of the game was plodding, with only brief flashes of scoring amidst a lengthy shooting slump. When Seton Hall seemed like they were poised to pull ahead by more than a possession, the Hoyas forced a turnover and Aminu brought it up the floor, where Dante fed it to Kaiden Rice for a three-pointer. Georgetown painfully failed to corral the ball after a missed SHU free throw, the Pirates made them pay with a triple, then the Hoyas suffered a shot clock violation and handed the ball back again. At the U4, Georgetown trailed by 8.

Seton Hall was still struggling to make shots, while the Hoyas also endured a stretch where they went 1-12 from the field. Dante finally broke the lid on the basket with a layup at the 1:49 mark, followed by another long jumper on the next Georgetown possession. Aminu showed visible frustration when he was whistled for a foul for contact against Rhoden in the act of shooting; his PG restrained & talked him down. Rice committed a foul going for the rebound with 8.1 seconds remaining, then redeemed himself with a buzzer-beating three to send his team into the locker room with a boost.

Georgetown trailed 35-28 at the half.

Nearly 2 ½ minutes elapsed before either team scored after the break, with the Pirates breaking the error-laden stalemate full of missed jumpers and blocked shots, as Tray Jackson dunked home a missed three. It was another 90 seconds before Rhoden added the next field goal. The only thing blistering in this game may have been viewers’ eyes, because the pace of the scoring was glacial – the teams were collectively 2/16 from the field. Yet another 90 seconds later, Donald Carey hit a tripel for the Hoyas’ first basket of the half. Mere seconds later, Rice knocked one down from the same spot. The Pirates were stubbornly on top, 39-34 at 14:22.

A scramble for the ball sent Dante out in transition, who found Aminu on the wing to bury a triple, pulling the Hoyas within a mere 2 points. The drought ended; the teams traded baskets. Excellent defense from Mutombo on first-, second-, and third-chance shot attempts gave the ball back to Georgetown coming out of the U12.

Another block by Mutombo set up a transition basket, and yet another Mutombo block set up Carey to give the Hoyas their first lead of the half. Aminu created another TO and Harris knocked down an elbow J, putting the Hoyas up 49-45 at 8:45 and capping off a 10-0 Georgetown run. Seton Hall answered, then Mutombo followed Dante’s shot to slam it back down, keeping his team up by 4. A great defensive play by Rice created a new possession for his team, Mutombo grabbed a miss (clamped down solidly), and Harris bounced it off to Carey who finished it hiiiigh off the glass. Consecutive triples by Tray Jackson put the Pirates back on top by a bucket as the broadcast broke for commercial with 6:09 remaining.

Swarming defense by Hall on the next possession prevented the Hoyas from getting off a decent shot. However, strong interior defense by Mutombo at the other end gave the ball right back to Georgetown. Myles Cale, Kaiden Rice, and Tray Jackson all nailed threes, Richmond added another transition layup for Hall, and Carey (somehow?) got a wild basket & the foul. Tallying up that flurry of action, the Hoyas were in a 63-59 hole with 3:03 remaining.

After a deft scramble by Carey & a fortuitous whistle, Georgetown inched closer as Billingsley finished over Obiagu with a shoulder-heavy post move to make it a one-possession game. A jumper from Rhoden and two more empty possessions for the Hoyas allowed this one to slip from their grasp as the Pirates’ advantage crept up with each set of foul shots. In the end, it was 70-63.

This has to be gutting for the team, particularly over the past couple of games, seeing themselves hang with BIG EAST opponents only to fall short. The plan & execution is lacking. That crisp ball movement from early in the first half trailed off under pressure. Once again, there’s no space to breathe or think after this one. Georgetown is back in action again on Thursday evening, when they host St. John’s in historic McDonough Gymnasium in front of a student-only crowd. That one is set for 6pm and will air on FS1.

Hoya Saxa. Let them play more games on campus. (Can somebody translate that into Latin?)