In a tough game, against a stout defensive opponent, the Hoyas couldn’t make a second half run, and lost 71-60 to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, evening the Big Ten vs. Big East matchups of what looks to be the final iteration of the Gavitt Games at 3-3. Jayden Epps and Dontrez Styles lead the scoring for the Hoyas with 16 and 15 points, respectively, but 21 turnovers (and only 4 assists) for Georgetown were the daggers.
On Wednesday, your Georgetown Hoyas traveled up to Piscataway, NJ to match up with the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. This is only 1 of 2 away, non-conference games the Hoyas will play this year, and with questions looming about the defensive side of the ball as well as struggles rebounding, Georgetown needed to show some resilience. Rutgers, much like the Hoyas, are struggling to find their identity, as they lost their opening game to in-state rival Princeton before getting back on track with wins against Boston University and Bryant.
If you were worried about how Ed Cooley and the troops would respond after the Holy Cross loss, I hope you missed the first 15 seconds. Rutgers big, Clifford Omoruyi, won the tip, ran a screen play at half court, and finished with an alley-oop dunk, electrifying the giddy crowd at Jersey Mike’s Arena. Then Rowan Brumbaugh (8 PTS, 2 ASTS, 5 TO) picked up an offensive foul on the ensuing inbounds play, leading to another Omoruyi dunk.
From there, offense for either team was hard to come by. Georgetown started launching uncontrolled, contested shots from just about everywhere on the floor. Jay Heath banged a couple of shots off of the backboard without catching any iron. Epps, Brumbaugh, and Cook all added a turnover to the stat sheet. Things were ugly early and a lot of that can be credited to Omoruyi (8 PTS, 4 REBS, 4 BLKS), the Scarlet Knight Center who refused to allow the Hoyas to get anything in the paint.
Jayden Epps was doing most of the shooting in the early-going, starting 2-6 from the field (1-4 3PT). Then with about 13 minutes left in the half, he rolled his ankle coming down from a 3, and was escorted back to the locker room. The under 12 timeout shortly followed with the Hoyas committing a shot clock violation, trailing 13-8. Looking back at the first 8 minutes, Georgetown was lucky to be down by 5, Rutgers seemed to be missing everything, including some open layups, and the Hoyas struggled to get any clean looks on the offensive side of the ball.
Out of the break, with Omoruyi on the Scarlet Knight’s bench with 2 early fouls, the lane started to open for streaking layups by Dontrez Styles (15 PTS, 7 REBS, 3 TO) and Jay Heath (9 PTS) , who took over the offensive workload with Epps out. While the offense started to progress, the defense continued to struggle giving up open shots and allowing Rutgers freshman Gavin Griffiths (12 PTS) to get going from 3. Then with 8:15 left in the half, Epps returned to the action, a little hobbled. He immediately got his pocket picked on the ensuing possession, forcing Cooley to burn his first timeout with 8:02 left in the half and the Hoyas trailing by 10.
Out of the timeout, the bleeding continued - Rutgers sped up the game with full court pressure, forcing a Brumbaugh turnover. Rutgers guard Aundre Hyatt (12PTS, 7 REBS, 2 STLS) made the steal then dribbled up the floor and drilled an uncontested, unassisted triple: 30-17 Rutgers. After that, Georgetown finally woke up, garnering up a 15-3 run, mostly thanks to Dontrez Styles, who got unconscious from deep.
Of note, the Georgetown rebounding, which caused much concern after the Holy Cross pummeling on the boards, was solid, especially with Ryan Mutombo getting meaningful minutes. After the run, the Hoyas were back in it, trailing 33-32. But, in all too familiar fashion, the run was squashed near the end of the half with Epps turning the ball over on back-to-back possessions, allowing the Scarlet Knights to stretch their lead back to 6: 38-32, headed into the intermission. With both teams shooting 40% from the field, the Hoyas trailed for one reason: turnovers. The Hoyas finished the half with an abysmal 13 turnovers. Epps had 5 and if bad shots counted for turnovers, the team would’ve had about 25, as everything felt like it was contested and late in the shot clock.
Coming out of halftime, the size of Rutgers continued to stymie the Georgetown offensive, forcing deep threes and contested interior layups. Aundre Hyatt picked up where he left off and nailed a pair of wide-open 3s, and Cooley called his 2nd timeout 4 minutes into the 2nd half, sensing the knockout punch was near, down 15. Out of the timeout, and just as Cooley had drawn up I am sure, Epps immediately turned the ball over on a baby inbounds pass in the backcourt and Noah Fernandes (10PTS) made the lead 18. The wheels were falling off the wagon.
Over the next 12 minutes of play, the lead hovered between 14 and 18 points, and Epps did most of the scoring from the charity stripe. Heading into the under 8 media timeout, Dontrez Styles took an elbow to the eyebrow which drew blood, but he later returned. Georgetown was never able to make a run to cut into the Rutgers lead and ultimately fell 71-60.
Unfortunately, the Hoyas struggled on both ends of the floor: offensively, the Georgetown guard duo of Epps and Brumbaugh struggled with the full court pressure all night, and Georgetown’s lack of size stopped them from getting anything going in the paint. Defensively, we were outmatched and gave up a lot of open looks.
On a positive note, Georgetown did dominate the rebounding battle against this bigger Rutgers team, 40-29. This was always going to be a tough game, but I think Georgetown fans were hoping for a bit more of a fight. Regardless, giving up 21 turnovers (yikes) makes it tough to win any game, against anyone. As everyone knows, this season is going to have growing pains, as difficult as it is and will be, watching this team is going to take patience. Cooley did it at Providence and he’ll do it again in DC.
Georgetown will lick its wounds and get ready for the inaugural Georgetown MTE at Capital One Arena this weekend with Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday at noon (FOX 5 Plus / Fox Sports App) and American University on Sunday at 4:30 PM (FS2). Hoya Saxa!