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Junior forward DaJuan Summers

Chris Wright sauntered to the free-throw line with 8:53 remaining in the Hoyas’ disheartening loss to West Virginia, his confident gaze fixed on the reddish-orange rim. The sophomore guard had two chances to cut into the Mountaineers’ 49-43 lead.

His first toss swished through the nylon.

His second try was not so smooth, bouncing out into the outstretched arms of West Virginia sophomore forward John Flowers.

As Wright retreated to the defensive end, he shook his head in disappointment. Nothing was going right for the Hoyas.

All evening long, Georgetown clanked three-pointers and free throws, layups and floaters. Nothing would fall, and Head Coach John Thompson III’s team was frustrated.

Less than 20 seconds after Wright’s miss, West Virginia senior guard Alex Ruoff received a pass just beyond the three-point line and a step to the right of the basket. He eyed the basketball in his hands, sought out the nearest defender, and quickly realizing he had space to get off a shot, tossed the ball towards the basket. Swish. Lead back to eight.

From there, the Hoyas would pull only one point closer.

Indeed, on Thursday night it was not Georgetown’s horrid shooting that killed the Hoyas – though their shooting (39.2 percent overall; 12.5 percent from deep) was indeed horrid – it was their inability to overcome the poor shooting with hustle and energy that made the 75-58 loss, Georgetown’s most embarrassing performance of the season. Whereas the Mountaineers fought hard for every rebound and loose ball, applied physical pressure on every possession and maintained their composure down the stretch, the Hoyas looked flat, played soft and appeared anxious down the stretch.

Georgetown’s 2-of-16 shooting from deep put the team in jeopardy, but it was the Hoyas’ 19 turnovers, 14 offensive boards surrendered, 10 missed layups and nine missed free throws that did Georgetown in.

Those mishaps, according to Thompson, were a product of all the missed shots.

“It’s how we responded to not making shots,” Thompson said. “I think our poor defensive effort was a function of us being frustrated by the ball not going in.”

Countered WVU Head Coach Bob Huggins: “We’re not big but we’re long and we’re at times pretty quick to the ball. I thought we were a little quicker to the ball today than what we were last week.”

Trailing by five at the half, Georgetown pulled within four on a Summers three-pointer with 17:20 to go. On the Hoyas’ next defensive stand, sophomore guard Austin Freeman made a steal and threw a long pass ahead to Wright. With only one man covering him lightly, Wright flubbed the layup. So it went for Georgetown.

The Hoyas pulled within two after sophomore forward Omar Wattad’s layup with 11:49 to go, but Wright and Freeman missed threes on Georgetown’s next two trips. Following Freeman’s miss, WVU junior forward Da’Sean Butler weaved his way into the paint for an open layup.

Freeman missed a contested layup shortly thereafter, West Virginia stormed the other way and freshman forward Devin Ebanks converted a John Flowers miss to make the lead six.

The Georgetown misses were bad. The Hoyas’ defensive lapses immediately after were worse.

“The ball just didn’t go in the basket and then with each possession as the clock continued to move, the angst showed up a little bit too much at the other end,” Thompson said. “We just got a little bit too excited at the other end and allowed them to get too many easy looks.”

With 2:56 remaining and the Hoyas trailing 63-53, Mountaineers’ senior guard Alex Ruoff missed his second free-throw try but his teammate, freshman forward Kevin Jones, swooped into the lane, corralled the rebound and kept the possession alive. Thirty seconds later, the Mountaineers turned the second chance into two points.

On Georgetown’s ensuing possession, junior forward DaJuan Summers drove to his right side, drew contact and went to the line. He missed both free throws.

“It’s very frustrating, but like coach said we gotta be able to still play through that adversity, the other team getting offensive rebounding and us not taking shots, things like that,” Summers said. “But yeah, it’s very frustrating.”

From start to finish, the Mountaineers made all the hustle plays, and the Hoyas made none. Even as Georgetown tried to come back in the second half, West Virginia played its game and stayed loose. The Hoyas, as evidenced by their seven second-half missed free throws, tightened up.

Georgetown must rectify that if it is to bounce back from this disheartening defeat. The Hoyas travel to the Meadowlands on Sunday to take on Seton Hall (9-9, 0-6). While the Pirates have struggled this season, Georgetown can ill afford to play as lackadaisically as it did against West Virginia.

Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

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