FILE PHOTO: CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA Senior Henry Sims scored all of his 10 points in the second half of Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-10 center also had five assists in the loss, the third in six games for the Hoyas.
FILE PHOTO: CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA
Senior Henry Sims scored all of his 10 points in the second half of Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-10 center also had five assists in the loss, the third in six games for the Hoyas.

Bad luck. Just plain bad luck. That’s what happened to Georgetown Saturday.

Not the game itself. That was just plain bad defense, bad offense, bad everything. Had the Hoyas played anywhere near as well as they did earlier this season, this would have gone down as a win.

But it was not to be, as Pittsburgh received a timely boost in the form of junior point guard Tray Woodall’s return from injury. Woodall, who missed 11 of 12 games before returning to action against Louisville Jan. 21, has seemingly picked up right where he left off before he got hurt. Although he labored through 21 scoreless minutes against the Cardinals,Woodall put up 17 points and nine assists against Providence three days before handing out 10 assists against Georgetown. The consecutive wins against the Friars and Hoyas were the first the Panthers earned in the Big East.

The Panthers needed this game. For the first time in seven years, Pitt will most likely not make the NCAA tournament thanks to already having nine losses. A few more would certainly eliminate the Panthers from the bracket.

Woodall shot only 1-of-7 from the floor against the Hoyas, but his passing opened up the floor for his teammates, who shot nearly 59 percent from the floor. Senior forward Nasir Robinson and redshirt sophomore forward Lamar Patterson were the primary scorers for the Panthers, making seemingly endless open layups and dunks on their way to a combined 41 points on 15-of-17 shooting.

The Blue and Gray’s inability to defend the paint led to an early 17-point deficit that they were ultimately unable to overcome.

“From the defensive end, what happened should not have happened,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “From lack of communication to lack of effort to breakdown.”

“[The defense] was not good,” senior center Henry Sims said. “Transition defense, half court defense, we could have communicated a lot better. There were a lot of things we could have done better. Overall [it was] just a bad defensive performance.”

Georgetown looked hopelessly confused on the defensive end for most of the game. Robinson wasn’t just open — he was abandoned. With every dunk or wide-open layup, the Hoya defenders seemed to inch farther and farther away from the senior.

The Hoyas gathered themselves at halftime, however, and looked like they might be able to take control of the game after a nice run at the beginning of the second half had seemingly blunted all of the Panthers’ momentum.

With 15 minutes left in the game, Sims hit a jumper and Robinson committed a rare turnover. Georgetown had the ball down by five and had an unexpected opportunity to make it a one-possession game.

Two turnovers, three fouls, two missed shots and zero rebounds later, the deficit was back to double digits and the crowd was back into it.

“Everyone’s performance today, everyone on Georgetown basketball needs to get better,” Thompson III said after the game.

The Hoyas cut the deficit to six points twice more in the second half, the last time coming at the four-minute mark when freshman forward Greg Whittington hit a pair of free throws.

Patterson responded with two assists on the Panthers’ next two possessions, leading directly to a dunk and a layup, and senior guard Ashton Gibbs followed a Sims turnover with a long jumper to push the lead back to 12 and put the game out of reach.

More worrisome than the Hoyas’ inability to come back, though, were their early struggles on the offensive end.

With 10:32 left in the first half, the Blue and Gray had scored only 11 points but were staying close to the Panthers thanks to a strong defensive effort that had held the Panthers to only 14. Over the next few minutes, though, the Blue and Gray’s defense deserted them and the offense was unable to pick up the slack. The Hoyas mustered only three points on 1-of-11 shooting in the next eight minutes, while the Panthers scored 17 points.

“We were getting the looks we wanted but they were not going into the basket,” Thompson III said. “It was not just our half-court defense, but our transition defense turned into easy shots for them.”

The poor shooting stretch included nine missed jumpers, including an ill-advised three-point attempt from sophomore forward Nate Lubick, who missed the wide-open look with 29 seconds left on the shot clock.

For the most part, though, this game was not the worst Georgetown has played — at least not offensively. While the defense was horrendous, it showed flashes of competence, and the Panthers deserve credit for hitting 19-of-22 free throws and not committing too many fouls themselves.

The Petersen Events Center is never an easy place to play, as evidenced by visiting top-10 teams’ all-time 0-12 record in the building.

The loss isn’t as bad as the flaws it exposed. Defense has been the Hoyas’ calling card all year, often compensating for an offense that has consistently struggled with turnovers and free throws. With just one month remaining before postseason play starts, this is not the time for Georgetown to start making defensive miscues.

“On the defensive end they got everything they wanted,” Thompson III said. “And when they didn’t, they got the rebound.”

Next up for the Hoyas is yet another desperate team: the Connecticut Huskies. The Huskies have lost five of their past seven games and recently tumbled out of the national rankings, after starting the season as the No. 4 team in the country. If the Blue and Gray are to remain in the conversation for a Big East tournament double-bye, they can ill afford to lay another egg on Wednesday.

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