What little hope Georgetown fans had that the Georgetown men’s basketball team (14-13, 7-7 Big East) would make the NCAA tournament took a hit Wednesday night when the Hoyas fell to Seton Hall (18-7, 8-5 Big East) by a score of 72-64.
In the first game of a stretch where the Hoyas needed to go 4-1 or 5-0 to have a prayer at grabbing a spot in the NCAA tournament, Georgetown trailed nearly the entire game after it lost the lead with 15:58 left in the first half.
Freshman center Jessie Govan was the bright spot for the Hoyas on Wednesday, scoring a career-high 27 points, going 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Seton Hall Head Coach Kevin Willard complimented the freshman center on his play after the game.
“I thought Jessie had a great game, banging some threes. He had two really big threes, one that cut [the lead] from 15 to 12 … that was a big momentum changer, and then he hit one late.”
Govan also notched seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Additionally, he boasted his best defensive performance of the season, stifling Seton Hall sophomore center Angel Delgado, who scored just seven points on 3-for-9 shooting from the field.
“Jessie played well in a loss,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “He’ll be able to do that, he’ll be able to score.”
The star of the game, however, was Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead, who had an answer for every run the Hoyas tried to make. Whitehead totaled 22 points, six assists and two rebounds.
“He’s really playing well,” Thompson said. “He’s playing at a high level right now in all aspects of the game — not just scoring. He’s so improved this year because he’s realized that the more he passes, the easier the game gets for him.”
A layup from Delgado gave the Pirates the lead with 15:58 in the first half and they did not look back. A turnover by Georgetown junior forward Reggie Cameron led to a fast-break layup for Seton Hall sophomore guard Khadeen Carrington for two of his 18 points on the night, which extended the Seton Hall lead to 11.
The Georgetown offense was stagnant throughout the whole game, preventing it from keeping up with Seton Hall. For the game, the Hoyas shot 23-for-61 — 37.7 percent — from the field and were an alarming 6-for-27 — 22.2 percent — from beyond the arc. Georgetown could not get inside the paint, settling for too many outside shots with the shot clock winding down.
“I think there was a stretch — definitely in the first half and maybe a small stretch in the second half — where we were taking too many outside shots,” Thompson said.
Willard said that Seton Hall effectively shut down Georgetown offensively, forcing the Hoyas to take those low-percentage perimeter shots.
“I thought we had a good feel for what we wanted to do defensively for them.”
The two teams traded three pointers midway through the first half, with Govan and senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera each knocking down one. Carrington and Whitehead answered to keep the Seton Hall lead at nine points.
With time winding down in the first half, sophomore guard L.J. Peak – who had 10 points on the night – led the Hoyas on a run to get back into the game. Whitehead ended the Georgetown momentum by canning a three with 1:04 remaining to give his team a 32-28 lead.
The Hoyas trailed by eight points at halftime after Whitehead hit a tough shot over freshman forward Marcus Derrickson and freshman guard Kaleb Johnson. After halftime, the Hoyas did not do much to fight back, allowing Seton Hall to get out to a 51-36 lead after another Whitehead three-point shot.
Georgetown tried to bounce back, but allowing the Pirates to enter into the bonus with eight minutes left in the game quenched any hope of mounting a serious comeback. The Pirates’ last 21 points of the game were scored off free throws, as the Hoyas could not stop sending players to the line. Another three from Govan with 1:03 left made it 66-59, but then two Carrington free throws and a turnover by Smith-Rivera ended any hope of a comeback and sealing the Hoyas’ fate.
Now in sixth place in the Big East, the Hoyas will play host to No. 8 Xavier (23-3. 11-3 Big East) on Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center. At this point in the season, the Hoyas hope to win four straight games to capture the tournament championship to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Hoyas only have one five-game winning streak this season, with four of those wins coming against mid-major teams. Georgetown will need to improve on its performance against Seton Hall to earn a win on the road against Marquette, which is as talented as it is deep. Led by sophomore guard Trevon Bluiett and junior guard Myles Davis, the Musketeers defeated the Providence Friars (19-8, 7-7 Big East) at home Wednesday night by a score of 85-74. Xavier is second in the Big East in scoring at 79.7 points per game and is also second in rebounds per game with 41.4 while Georgetown is ninth with 35.6.
With senior center Bradley Hayes sidelined after an injury, Govan will need another spectacular performance to compensate down low.
“We just have to fight. We’ve been fighting, I mean the team is still scrapping, but we just have to find a way to manufacture wins,” Thompson said.
Tipoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. and the game will be televised on Fox.