Men’s Basketball | Creighton Hands GU First Big East Loss

A 9-2 run in the last two minutes of the game was enough for Creighton (11-5, 2-1 Big East) to pull away and secure a victory over the Georgetown men’s basketball team (9-6, 2-1 Big East) Tuesday night, by a final score of 79-66. Georgetown overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half and led for some stretches throughout the game, but it could not come up with key defensive stops to get the ball back and mount a comeback. The Hoyas closed out the game by scoring just two points in the last three minutes, allowing the Bluejays to stretch what was at first a six-point lead into a 15-point lead.

Creighton entered the matchup fresh off an 85-71 loss Saturday to No. 16 Villanova (12-2, 2-0 Big East). Creighton Head Coach Greg McDermott believes the loss factored into the Bluejays’ renewed intensity Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough few days for us because we were embarrassed because of the efficiency of Villanova’s offense against our defense, and I thought tonight, when the game was being decided, that we showed a little grit. And when this team shows that grit and that toughness, we’re a different team,” McDermott said.

Creighton junior guard Maurice Watson Jr., a transfer from Boston University, opened up Georgetown’s defense, scoring a career-high 27 points and notching seven rebounds. Watson was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the last three minutes to close out the game for the Bluejays.

“He controlled the game right from the tip … there’s no other way to put it,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “With not just his scoring, but how he placed and got the ball to his teammates. He doesn’t make mistakes, so when you play against him … we can’t make the number of mistakes that we did.”

On Georgetown’s end, freshman center Jessie Govan had a dominant performance, scoring a career-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting while grabbing six rebounds. Govan, who has shown a propensity for three-point shooting thus far into his collegiate career, was 3-for-3 from three-point range. His ability to stretch the floor for Georgetown on offense with his shooting ability was greatly needed Tuesday night, and it led to his playing more minutes — 22— than senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes — 18 minutes. Hayes started the game but struggled in his matchup against Creighton senior center Geoffrey Groselle.

The Hoyas got off to an early 7-6 lead against the Bluejays in the first half, but saw that lead vanish behind the three-point shooting of Creighton senior guard James Milliken, who came off the bench and immediately hit a three-pointer to give his team the lead. Creighton would hang onto that lead for the rest of the half until Govan tied up the game with 1:46 remaining in the half off an easy layup.

Georgetown went into the locker room at halftime trailing 38-36, after being down by as many as 10 points in the first half. After halftime, Georgetown quickly tied things up with a hook shot from Hayes, who was 4-of-8 from the field overall. A three-pointer from senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera gave the Hoyas their first lead since the 15:39 mark of the first half, at 43-40.

Georgetown’s three-point shooting kept it in the game, as the Hoyas shot a collective 11-of-24 from beyond the arc, which was crucial against the team that leads the Big East in three-point field goal percentage.

The teams traded leads for much of the second half. With 9:26 remaining in the game, the Bluejays took the lead for the final time after a layup by junior forward Zach Hanson put them up 57-56. Soon after, Georgetown sophomore guard L.J. Peak fouled junior guard Isaiah Zierden while shooting a three-point attempt, and an errant pass from Smith-Rivera led to a fast-break dunk for Hanson to put the Bluejays up by seven with eight minutes left.

Turnovers plagued the Hoyas yet again, as they committed 15 throughout the game, allowing the Bluejays to score 25 points off those turnovers. The Hoyas ultimately were not able to muster a comeback, thanks to the scoring of Watson and several bad turnovers at the end of the game.

Thompson said Georgetown’s shortcomings on defense hindered many of their offensive attempts to stay in the game.

“Instead of trying to get to the basket, I think we settled for too many threes in the latter part of the game. … They had a lot of shots because of our mishaps on defense. Their success at the offensive end led to us forcing things at our offensive end,” Thompson said.

After missing out on a chance at being part of a two-way tie for first place in the Big East, the Hoyas will look to regroup at home Saturday against the DePaul Blue Demons (6-9, 0-3 Big East), who are currently in last place in the conference standings. Georgetown opened Big East play against DePaul on Dec. 30 and won in a 70-58 decision.

Tipoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. at Verizon Center.

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