Leading by six with less than six minutes remaining and senior center Henry Sims at the line shooting two free throws, Georgetown seemed poised to notch its 14th win of the year and put Saturday’s loss to West Virginia firmly in the rearview mirror. But Sims missed both free throws and the Bearcats embarked on a game-changing 13-3 run that saw the Hoyas go without a field goal until freshman guard Markel Starks made a layup with two seconds left.

The problem for the Blue and Gray, who shot a scintillating 59% from the field, was a familiar one: turnovers.

After Sims’ misses, Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick drilled a three to halve the Hoyas’ lead, part of a career-high 27-point performance by the sophomore guard. The next four Georgetown possessions ended in turnovers— one by Sims, one by sophomore forward Nate Lubick and two by junior forward Hollis Thompson, a streak that was only broken when freshman forward Otto Porter was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Senior center Yancy Gates made two free throws on the ensuing Cincinnati possession to give theBearcats their first lead of the second half. Sims made two free throws of his own to stop the run on the Blue and Gray’s next possession and put the Hoyas ahead by one, but the damage had been done.

“We cannot turn the ball over like that,” Thompson III said after the game. “That was the ball game… we just turned the ball over. I don’t mean to negate anything that they did, not in any way shape or form do I mean that they didn’t play a good game or they didn’t execute, but we just shot ourselves in the foot today.”

Even after Cincinnati’s impressive run, the Hoyas had a chance to tie the game in the last minute. An offensive rebound gave the Blue and Gray a second chance after a Porter miss with 30 seconds left and Thompson III called his final timeout. The Hoyas drew up a play in the huddle but fittingly, Porter stepped out of bounds with 7.1 seconds left on the clock, committing the Hoyas’ 17th and final turnover in the process.

“We were trying to just run a side on ball with Jason and Henry… we had Hollis in the other corner in case they came to help, but they switched defenses on us,” Thompson III said. “Otto had the ball right there and made a play, but stepped out of bounds.”

The Hoyas, who came into the game averaging 12 turnovers per contest, have now committed at least 15 turnovers in five of their last six games. If they are to overcome this problem and snap their losing streak on Sunday on the road against St. John’s, the Blue and Gray are probably going to need more from Hollis Thompson.

Thompson, who led the team with 14 points in the first half on 5-5 shooting, including 4-4 from behind the arc, went into halftime on a high note after banking in a long three as time expired, but came out cold in the second half. The junior attempted just one shot, a badly missed step back midrange jumper that was rebounded by Lubick and then turned over on the ensuing inbounds pass, and was largely a non-factor offensively over the final 20 minutes.

“I got the open shots in the first half. I didn’t get the shots in the second half,” Thompson said. “They guarded me differently [and] we had a lot of turnovers. Things just didn’t happen the way we would’ve liked for them to.”

“We ran a couple of sets to try to get him shots,” Thompson III said. “But they were definitely a lot more attentive to him in denying him and face guarding him in the second half and so that was a large part of it.”

The Hoyas were able to make nine of their first 11 attempts of the second half without the junior making—or taking—any shots. But when the Cincinnati defense tightened up down the stretch Thompson, a game-changing offensive force in the first half and the most accurate three-point shooter in Georgetown history was held in check.

Monday night notwithstanding, the Blue and Gray have shown remarkable resilience and ability to fight through adversity this year. Even if they lose a tough road contest against St. John’s on Sunday there is a good chance they will right the ship before the season ends.

But that requires a fix to the turnover problems that were previously getting papered over by late-game heroics from the likes of Thompson and senior guard Jason Clark but have been laid bare by the intensity of Big East play.

“You don’t lose two in a row and just walk out the door and not think about it,” Thompson III said. “I think we know what makes us good and we know the mistakes that we’ve made the last two games, which have caused us to not come out on the victorious end of the ledger. You have to go back and do some introspection from top to bottom, but I think this team knows when they’ve been good and they know when they haven’t been good and why and so you have to look at that and fix that.”

Tipoff against the Red Storm is scheduled for noon on Sunday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

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