HARTFORD, Conn. – Sometimes the best defense can’t make up for a lack of a good offense. The Georgetown men’s basketball team found a way to keep up with No. 4 Connecticut for 40 minutes Saturday, but could not provide the offensive firepower to overcome one of the nation’s top squads in the 74-67 loss. Although the Hoyas were never blown out of the game, the team fell short of finally figuring out a program that has handed them 11 straight defeats. Georgetown fell three times to the Huskies last season, but anyone who watched the two sides battle in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament could see that the Hoyas were on their way up. Still, however, Saturday’s match demonstrated they have not quite made it there. While Georgetown could not stop No. 16 West Virginia on a second-half surge last Wednesday, this time the Hoyas (10-4, 2-2) could not erase a flat first-half performance to catch up with the Huskies (14-1, 2-1). “We’re not at the point where we can have lapses,” John Thompson III, the Georgetown head coach, said. “We need to play a perfect game against these teams if we want to win.” Georgetown struggled all afternoon from the outside, shooting under 30 percent from the three-point line despite 27 attempts. The Hoyas looked especially sluggish in the first 20 minutes and could only come up with 24 points off nine field goals. Connecticut got off to a better start, bolstered by senior center Hilton Armstrong’s 5-for-7 shooting as Georgetown and sophomore center Roy Hibbert struggled to keep up early on. The Huskies also effectively used a full-court press to wind down the shot clock for the Hoyas, unbalancing the visiting team’s offense with great success. Connecticut forced its opponent on multiple occasions to take rushed perimeter shots, and twice the Hoyas were called on shot clock violations. “I thought our defense was very, very good. I thought the press was good because it was more of a containment-type press than a trapping press,” Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun said. “It also took 10 seconds off the shot clock and got them out of rhythm of just coming down and running their offense every time from half court.” Georgetown tightened up on defense to compensate, and kept turnovers low to prevent points off fast breaks and transitions. Meanwhile, Connecticut struggled to pull down boards, only grabbing five offensive rebounds for the half. Although the Huskies pulled away midway through the half, the Hoyas kept them within sights and finished the first 20 minutes with a nine-point deficit, 33-24. In the second half, the Hoyas did a better job slowing down the game to fit their pace, and the change in tempo helped the team focus and get back in the game. “In the second half we did a decent job of dictating the pace and dictating the game. In the first half, we did not do a good job of that,” Thompson said. “We were taking contested shots too fast. In the second half, I think our shot selection got a little better.” Georgetown played much more confidently in the paint, and sophomore forward Jeff Green nearly leveled the game after the Hoyas went on 6-0 run early in the half. Green’s three-point equalizer went astray, however, and the Huskies kept the lead. Three minutes later, with 11:44 on the clock, Hibbert sank a layup that brought Georgetown within four points, 44-40. Connecticut rallied with seven unanswered points to make sure that its guest would not get so close until the closing minutes of the game. “Their players stepped up and made key plays. Every time we came down and cut it to five or six, one of their guys would make a play,” Thompson said. The Hoyas got their final chance with 1:19 left, when senior guard Ashanti Cook hit a three-pointer to bring the score back within four points, 67-63. By this time, however, the team was in deep foul trouble with Green and Hibbert both standing with four fouls. Additional fouls to gain back possession only helped the Huskies keep their lead. Four Georgetown players finished with four fouls, and Connecticut walked away with another victory. Sophomore guard Jonathan Wallace and senior guard Darrel Owens both came up with well-timed three-pointers, but the Hoyas still struggled in the backcourt and only hit five of 13 attempted threes in the second half. Georgetown picked up some of the slack in the paint, outscoring Connecticut at the post, and posted a 54.5 percent field goal average in the second half. The Huskies, however, seemed to have a response to everything and finished the game hitting 60 percent from the floor. “As a team, they have answers,” Thompson said. “You can focus on one person, but they have someone else that is a very good player that can step up.” The Hoyas, however, were able to pick up 15 offensive rebounds to their hosts’ six and put four players in double-digit scoring. Senior forward Brandon Bowman led all scorers with 20 points. “You look at the stat sheet and they had seven points in transition, probably pretty low for them, and six offensive rebounds, which is also probably pretty low for them,” Thompson said. “But, at the end of the day, they have very good players. We would make a run and their players would make plays.” After two ranked opponents, Georgetown gets a brief respite when its takes on South Florida, which holds a losing record for the season (6-9, 0-2). After passing the halfway mark for the season, Georgetown has not missed a step against weaker opponents but has yet to have a breakthrough against more highly regarded programs. Tip-off for Tuesday’s game against the Bulls is set for 7:30 p.m. at MCI Center.

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