After a slow start that left the Hoyas facing an 11-0 deficit in the opening minutes of play, the Georgetown men’s basketball team was unable to recover, falling to the Marquette Golden Eagles by a score of 76-66 in its first Big East matchup.

Both halves started in a similar manner — the Hoyas (8-5, 0-1 Big East) came out of the locker room flat and allowed the Golden Eagles (10-3, 1-0 Big East) to build large leads. Additionally, Georgetown’s long scoring droughts allowed Marquette to control the game and maintain its lead for the entire 40 minutes of play.

Graduate student guard Rodney Pryor — who played 39 of 40 minutes — tied a game high 23 points for Georgetown, but Marquette’s strong defensive performance held the Hoyas to a total of 66 points, their second-lowest scoring output of the season.

“They did a good job of pressuring the ball and pressuring the passing lanes. It hurt our offensive flow,” Pryor said of Marquette’s defensive play.

From the tipoff, Georgetown struggled on the offensive end of the court, missing five of its first six shots from the floor. Meanwhile, Marquette connected on four three-pointers and raced to a 16-2 lead, capped by one of redshirt junior guard Andrew Rowsey’s three-pointers.

The momentum finally started to swing as Georgetown began to establish offensive rhythm, making nine of its next 10 shots. After two threes from sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson, Pryor hit three consecutive shots from beyond the arc, cutting the Golden Eagles’ lead to 23-19. The Hoyas eventually came all the way back to tie the game at 26 with a three from junior guard Tre Campbell.

Georgetown’s big run ended there, and Marquette rallied to regain control of the game before halftime. After sinking a pair of free throws on a poor over-the-back foul from the Hoyas, the Golden Eagles took a 42-35 lead heading into the break.

In the second half, Georgetown’s inconsistent shooting allowed Marquette to build a 10-point lead, despite baskets from Derrickson and Pryor. With nine minutes left in the game and Marquette maintaining its 10-point margin, the Hoyas committed two turnovers off sloppy ball-handling. Golden Eagles senior guard JaJuan Johnson capitalized, grabbing both steals and finishing with two consecutive open-court dunks, part of his 11 second-half points.

“He’s a very good basketball player,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said of Johnson. “On defense he helped to give them two or three breakaway opportunities, and offensively he has a knack to get to the basket.”

Johnson and Marquette freshman guard Markus Howard combined for 43 of the team’s 76 points. On Georgetown’s side, junior guard L.J. Peak — averaging 15.9 points per game — was held to four points and suffered a groin injury limiting him to only 22 minutes.

Late in the second half, Marquette took a decisive lead. A lack of communication from the Georgetown defense led them to concede its 10th three of the game as Marquette extended its lead to 15 with a score of 68-53.

A full-court press that cut Marquette’s lead to eight served as Georgetown’s final push. The Hoyas eventually fell back into a double-figure deficit by the final buzzer.

Marquette had seven steals in the game and leads all Big East teams in that category. The Golden Eagles’ aggressive and opportunistic defense bothered Georgetown all game, and the team struggled to maintain a rhythm.

The Hoyas, however, will have their chance of redemption against Marquette on Feb. 11 at the Verizon Center.

“We need to have a lot more poise than we did tonight, and we need to limit the runs. I’m still confident in this team. It’s a tough loss, but we will need to regroup and bounce back,” Thompson said.

The Hoyas continue their Big East play as they return home New Year’s Eve to face the No. 17 Xavier Musketeers (11-2, 1-0 Big East). The game is set to tip off at 11 a.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

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