What a familiar type of pain. Your Georgetown Hoyas lost a fight song matchup this evening, falling by a score of 68-67 to the Holy Cross Crusaders. Jayden Epps and Rowan Brumbaugh led the Hoyas scoring, with 22 and 17 points respectively, along with a pair of steals apiece.
The Hoyas came into this rare Saturday night home game riding high off a 30+ point victory in the season opener against Le Moyne. Georgetown rarely gets the opportunity for a weekend evening outing at Capital One, never mind one where attendance was expected to be strong and the fanbase was actually optimistic. Holy Cross had come up just short earlier this week, losing to Siena by a single field goal in the final seconds of that one.
Instead of getting to witness tipoff, those of us tuning in via FS2 were required to endure 10 minutes of Providence doing an underwhelming job of closing out their game against Milwaukee. Our first taste of the correct broadcast saw Supreme Cook sinking a pair of free throws and Ryan Mutombo making an early entrance. While the Crusaders tied it up on the next possession, defensive pressure from the Hoyas set Brumbaugh up for the first of two consecutive buckets. The Hoyas were ahead 13-8 by the first media break.
Jayden Epps drained a smooth fadeaway jumper and then a triple, as the two teams traded baskets. A general positive sign was visible early in the improved closeouts against the Crusaders’ shots; the visitors were not getting things up uncontested from the perimeter. At the other end of the court offensive rebounding led to extra chances for Georgetown, however, they were frequently unable to convert which allowed Holy Cross to keep it very close.
Unanswered threes from Jay Heath and Brumbaugh created a tiny bit of breathing room, but the Hoyas’ struggles in containing Bo Montgomery allowed the Crusaders to stick within two possessions (or less) through much of the first half. A forced turnover set up Wayne Bristol Jr. and Brumbaugh to get out in transition, giving Georgetown a brief six point advantage. While they gave two back, a pair of baskets from Dontrez Styles kept the momentum with the Hoyas. A pair of foul shots coming out of the U4 put Georgetown up 37-30.
Holy Cross kept in their end for much of the next two minutes, but effective perimeter and baseline defense – including a travel that Styles briefly thought was a foul called on him – kept the damage to a minimum. The Hoyas took a 37-32 lead into the break.
Montgomery opened the scoring out of halftime, then Cook fought through three guys in the paint to answer at the other end, banking it in off the glass. Improvement in reading the opponents’ offensive sets is going to be a must for Georgetown, because the glaring lapses in defense against drives & layups was responsible for giving up nearly 20 points to a combination of Montgomery and Joe Octave by the U16 mark of the second half.
Patient shot selection on the part of the Hoyas created an open shot for Epps from long range, and drilling that restored the widest margin of the game, 48-40. The pace of the game (and of scoring) slowed substantially at this juncture; it was more than 3 minutes of gameplay before either team managed another field goal. The most egregious defensive breakdown of the game for the Hoyas left Coulibaly wide open with a clear lane to the basket, allowing the Crusaders back within four.
Georgetown temporarily regrouped and capped off a 7-0 run with an unlikely three-pointer from Brumbaugh, a shot that the freshman sunk after seeming blissfully unaware of the shot clock until it had already counted down below two seconds. (Note: This is why having a crowd and a true home-court advantage matters! These messages can be communicated…loudly.) The Hoyas were ahead 57-46 with 8:35 remaining.
More discipline in their perimeter shot selection will benefit the Hoyas through non-con schedule, and it will be a must for any real success within conference play. It was these misses and empty trips that allowed Holy Cross to manage an 11-0 stretch of their own. With 3:55 remaining, the Crusaders tied it up at 57. Epps broke a 5 minute scoring drought with an immediate triple, but this was giving the bad kind of déjà vu.
Epps (sniping), Brumbaugh (foul shooting), and Styles (rebounding) were doing the right things on the offensive end, but the collective inability to stop Octave from scoring dragged Georgetown back into past patterns. When Cook missed two FTs with just over a minute remaining, Octave immediately answered with a three pointer and Holy Cross took a 1-point lead. The Hoyas trailed 68-67 with 38 seconds left on the clock.
Holy Cross missed two three pointers on their next possession, but after a length series of scrambles and deflections, the Hoyas didn’t regain possession until there were supposedly 3.5 seconds remaining in the game. Further review of the tape by the officiating crew somehow ended with that revised down to only 2.1 seconds, likely torpedoing whatever play the coaching staff attempted to draw up. The long inbounds attempt was tipped; there was no chance of getting a clean shot away.
The waning minutes of this contest were a stark reminder of how far this Georgetown team still has to climb. Yes, this was only their second game in a rebuilding year and there is a path toward addressing the gaps, particularly since some of the chronic areas of agony (i.e., perimeter closeouts) did show improvement over seasons past. However, there are broad areas that badly need to be fixed as the season continues. Defensive reads within 10’ of the basket, rebounding, and shot selection immediately come to mind. Also, that disparity of points in the paint should never occur.
Next, the Hoyas head up 95 for a game against former BIG EAST member Rutgers. That one tips at 8:30pm ET on Wednesday 11/15, and will air on FS1.