In a game characterized by 11 lead changes and a Georgetown lead that reached nine points in the first half, the Georgetown men’s basketball team struggled shooting from the field after halftime, eventually falling to the Providence Friars 73-63.
Taking to its home floor Wednesday, Feb. 19, Georgetown (15-11, 5-8 Big East) opened the game on a 9-0 run that got the crowd at Capital One Arena roaring, but Providence (15-12, 8-6 Big East) quickly responded with an 11-3 run to pull within one at 12-11 with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Coming back from an injury that has kept him out of the last four games, sophomore guard Mac McClung made his long-awaited return against the Friars, although his return was short-lived. McClung entered the game with 13 minutes left in the first half. He went 0-for-3 from the field on three straight possessions and scored two points before exiting to the locker room due to another apparent injury with three minutes left to play in the half.
Early foul trouble for both teams was both a blessing and a curse for the Hoyas. Georgetown has shot 77% from the line this season — 18th in the nation and first in the Big East — and the Hoyas continued this success with 25-for-32 free throw shooting against Providence. Fouls called against the Blue and Gray, however, meant Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) had to dig further into his bench than he would have anticipated early in the game.
The teams continued exchanging runs throughout the half. Providence eventually took a 28-27 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the first, but the Hoyas answered with a 7-2 run that was capped off by a three-pointer from junior guard Jahvon Blair. Georgetown headed to the locker room with a 34-30 lead and the momentum, having shot 40.9% from the field to Providence’s 31.3%.
The teams returned to the court evenly matched, as a bout of back and forth baskets from Providence and Georgetown kept the Friars within one to two scores of the Blue and Gray. Junior forward Jamorko Pickett helped maintain the Hoyas’ cushion with a jumper and foul shot to put Georgetown up 43-39 at the 16-minute mark. Pickett’s points, however, would be one of the last significant buckets made by the Hoyas on the night.
As time wound down, the Blue and Gray found a number of looks at the hoop through the remainder of the half but could not connect on any shots. The Hoyas went 0-for-13 from the field and 0-for-4 from downtown spanning from roughly the 14-minute mark up to the last two minutes of play. While the Georgetown offense was silenced during this stretch, the Providence players found their stride and notched 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field before Georgetown recorded another field goal.
While free throw shooting kept the Hoyas alive and held the deficit to single digits, Georgetown’s efforts were not enough to keep up with the Friars, who hit clutch shots down the stretch.
A three-pointer from graduate student guard Terrell Allen and a jumper from Blair to end the Hoyas’ field goal troubles would be in vain as the Friars hit five of their six free throws in the remaining 48 seconds to claim the 73-63 victory.
With McClung and senior center Omer Yurtseven sidelined with injuries, Blair and Allen have worked to fill the holes left by the team’s stars, especially on the offensive end. Both players came through for the Hoyas on Wednesday night as Blair continued his proficient scoring performances with a game-high 20 points, while Allen followed his 22-point showing against Butler on Saturday with 16 points against the Friars. Pickett also pitched into the effort with his second double-double of the season, recording 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
On the defensive end, senior guard Jagan Mosely continued his lockdown defense, helping hold Providence’s second-leading scorer on the season, sophomore guard David Duke, to zero points.
Despite Mosely’s efforts, however, Georgetown struggled to defend the three-point line as the Friars went 10-for-25 from deep just as they had in their 76-60 defeat of the Hoyas on Dec. 31.
Mosely, Allen, Pickett and Blair each played at least 35 minutes of the game, and their fatigue was evident down the stretch. Georgetown also began a full-court press in the second half in an attempt to generate turnovers and force the Friars to get into their sets with less time on the shot clock, tiring the Hoyas even more.
Following the loss, Ewing remarked on his team’s fatigue late in the game.
“To me, we just ran out of steam, ran out of energy, ran out of effort. All the things that we had been doing great — those guys have been logging some heavy minutes — tonight, it just took its toll,” Ewing said in an interview with GUHoyas.
The loss further decreases Georgetown’s chances at an NCAA Tournament bid. While the Hoyas’ postseason hopes are still alive, they continue to dwindle as the team sits at eighth in the Big East. Between the December dismissal of four key players and the injuries to McClung and Yurtseven, the team has had to grow quickly, and players have been forced to step up at both ends of the court. Although the Hoyas are fighting to hang on with opponents in a competitive Big East, their late-season struggles have continued with a limited number of players in their rotation.
Georgetown will look to turn things around when they hit the road to play DePaul on Saturday, Feb. 22. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. and will be broadcasted on FS1.