MEN'S BASKETBALL | Defensive Woes Doom Comeback
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 02:02
The phrase “must win” may be overused, but Georgetown’s battle against Seton Hall was the closest the Hoyas have come to having a must-win game this season. But with their backs against the wall, the Hoyas left Newark, N.J., with a crushing 82-67 defeat at the hands of the Pirates.
The Hoyas struggled out of the gate, mustering just three points while committing the same number of turnovers through the first four minutes. The only offense came from sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s three-pointer. Meanwhile, Seton Hall senior guard Fuquan Edwin continued to play his best basketball against Georgetown, scoring 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
The Hoyas got a spark when junior forward Mikael Hopkins — who has shown flashes of increased offensive productivity recently — scored five straight points to cut down the Pirates’ lead. Still, Georgetown struggled to get defensive stops, something it struggled with in its last game against St. John’s.
Seton Hall rode a 10-2 run in the middle of the first half to take a 25-15 advantage, led mostly by Edwin’s hot shooting. The senior didn’t miss a field goal until there was 4:47 left in the first half.
But the Hoyas’ offense sputtered to a halt, and Georgetown managed only four points in the final 5:30. After the first 20 minutes, Seton Hall was shooting better than 50 percent in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage, and the Pirates headed into the locker room with a 37-28 advantage. Edwin alone shot 6-of-8 from the field for 15 points in the first half. He also recorded two first-half steals and three rebounds.
While Georgetown didn’t shoot horrendously — the Hoyas recorded just over 40 percent in the first half — the Blue and Gray were out rebounded 18-13 in the first half and fell victim to poor decisions and turnovers.
Although the Hoyas came out of the second half strong — Georgetown started out on a 8-0 run to pull within three points — sloppy offense and poor transition defense allowed the Pirates to regain separation. Seton Hall followed up Georgetown’s run with a 14-0 run of its own to take its largest lead of the night. Georgetown, furthermore, was unable to convert offensive opportunities, as junior guard Jabril Trawick and senior forward Aaron Bowen took turns missing baskets down low.
Defensively, Georgetown made little progress from its previous game at St. John’s, giving up easy transition baskets and uncontested three-pointers. For a team that prides itself on strong defense, it has been that end of the court that has failed the Hoyas over the past two games.
The Hoyas also struggled to stay disciplined on defense. Senior guard Markel Starks, who finished with 13 points, picked up three fouls in the first half. Georgetown also found itself in the bonus with 12 minutes remaining in the game. Bowen and Trawick both fouled out, while Hopkins and Starks finished with four fouls each.
A bright spot for the Hoyas, once again, was Smith-Rivera. The sophomore has shown that he has broken out of his shooting slump, which seems like ancient history now. Typically, Starks has been a higher volume shooter than his backcourt counterpart, but on Thursday Smith-Rivera was the offensive focal point — perhaps a sign of things to come both at the end of this year and the next.
The task for Georgetown now is clear. If it is unable to beat a Seton Hall team that is unlikely to qualify for the national tournament, Georgetown does not have much of a case for itself. The problems are evident: poor defense, a lack of discipline, few real scoring threats and overall inconsistency. If the Hoyas want to make the national tournament, then they will likely need to win the Big East championship to earn the automatic bid to the postseason.
But that is a problem for critics and writers — not for players and coaches. The only game that matters to the team now is, and should be, it’s home match against Xavier this Saturday. A quick turnaround will be difficult but necessary — and potentially season saving.