After a back-and-forth battle with No. 4 Xavier in the first half of Wednesday’s contest at Capital One Arena, the Georgetown men’s basketball team struggled to keep pace after the break, ultimately losing 89-77. Following two straight wins, Georgetown fell to 15-11 overall and 5-10 in Big East play.

Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) said that the team failed to come out with the focus he expected.

“I think we’ve grown a lot from where we were, with the growing pains we have had to endure with the close losses we’ve had,” Ewing said in his postgame news conference.  “I expected us to be a lot more focused and come out with more of a laser focus, especially in this game, especially with the long layoff that we had. But I don’t think it was there.”

Four lead changes and two ties marked the first eight minutes of intense gameplay.  Freshman forward Jamorko Pickett scored the Hoyas’ first nine points, coming off of three early three-pointers.

“His confidence [has improved],” Ewing said. “He’s been playing with a lot more confidence in his shots and in his defensive ability.”

The Hoyas battled with the Musketeers (25-4, 13-3 Big East) early and managed to gain a seven-point lead with 5:39 to go in the first half after freshman guard Jahvon Blair’s two converted free throws. However, Xavier responded with eight straight points to regain the lead with just over two minutes left in the period.

With less than a minute left before halftime, the Hoyas gained possession for the final shot of the half.  They sent the ball to Pickett, who avoided defenders and made a tightly contested three-pointer for Georgetown to lead 40-38 at the break.

“We were right there in the first half, we came back and we fought,” Ewing said.

Georgetown did not back down from the challenge that the highly-ranked Musketeers posed in the first half. The Blue and Gray shot an impressive 55 percent in the half, including 75 percent from three-point range.

After the break, the teams again traded leads, and no team pulled away early. With 16:31 left, Pickett hit a stepback three to put the Hoyas up 50-47. His first 15 points came from a perfect 5-5 from deep.

AMANDA VAN ORDEN
Freshman forward Jamorko Pickett scored a career high with 21 points in Georgetown’s 89-77 loss to Xavier last Wednesday.

However, Xavier responded with a decisive push to take control of the game. The Musketeers went on a 12-0 run to take a 59-50 lead, the largest for either team at that point in the game.

“They made plays, hit shots and we didn’t,” Ewing said.  “They wanted it more than we did in the second half.”

Georgetown went scoreless for over five minutes before junior forward Marcus Derrickson hit a corner three with 11 minutes remaining. Derrickson scored only nine points and four rebounds on Wednesday.

“Our guys who normally carry us weren’t carrying us,” Ewing said. “Marcus didn’t play one of the games he normally plays. That hurts. If both he and Jessie aren’t having monster games for us, we’re not going to be effective.”

With nine minutes remaining, Blair made a three-pointer to cut the deficit to five. Yet, as they did throughout the half, Xavier responded to Georgetown’s offense with more of their own. With 4:45 left, Xavier’s freshman guard Quentin Goodin hit a three-pointer to extend the Musketeers’ lead to 11.

The Hoyas could not cut the deficit to less than nine points after Goodin’s shot.

“They have a good team,” Ewing said. “We just weren’t making shots, and when we did make shots, we just weren’t getting back.”

After a hot start in the first half, Georgetown shot only 41 percent from the floor and 45 percent from three-point range in the second half. They struggled on defense, too — Xavier went from shooting 43 to 57 percent from the first to second half of play.

Pickett led Georgetown with 21 points, while Xavier’s freshman forward Naji Marshall and senior guard J.P. Macura combined for 41 points.

Georgetown returns to action Saturday as they take on Providence (17-10, 8-6 Big East) at home at Capital One Arena. The Friars edged out the Hoyas 73-69 earlier this season Feb. 6.

Tipoff is set for 12 p.m. The game will be televised and streamed on CBS Sports Network and aired locally on 99.1 FM.

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