The Georgetown men’s basketball team (14-13, 5-9 Big East) entered Sunday afternoon’s contest with No. 20 Creighton (22-5, 9-5 Big East) on the bubble of many projected NCAA Tournament fields. In need of a win, the Hoyas were unable to contain junior guard Marcus Foster, who recorded a career-high 35 points for the Blue Jays. Foster added five rebounds and five assists en route to a decisive 87-70 victory over the Blue and Gray. Georgetown was led by junior guard L.J. Peak, who recorded 23 points, six rebounds, and three assists.
The Hoyas, who never led in the game and trailed for 39 minutes and one second, must now split their final four games in order to secure a record above .500. Last year, the team finished 15-18, the worst mark in 44 years and the first losing season under Head Coach John Thompson III. The Blue and Gray have not posted consecutive losing seasons since the 1971-72 and 1972-73 (John Thompson Jr.’s first year as head coach) seasons.
“They put us in difficult positions,” Thompson III said. “You know, we didn’t react and respond as we should have for long enough periods of time.”
Creighton senior forward Cole Huff opened the scoring with a slam-dunk just 40 seconds into the game, giving Creighton an early edge. On the Hoyas’ next possession, sophomore center Jessie Govan converted a layup to tie the game at 2-2. Huff responded with a three pointer on the ensuing Blue Jay possession, ending the only tie of the game. Creighton extended its lead to seven by the under-16 media timeout, 15-8.
The Blue Jays maintained this lead throughout the half, capitalizing on the stellar play of Foster. The junior provided Creighton with timely buckets and passes throughout the half, effectively stopping Georgetown’s comeback efforts. When the Blue and Gray cut the Creighton lead to four, Foster found senior guard Isaiah Zierden for a three-pointer to put the Blue Jays up by seven midway through the half. In the final minutes of the half, Foster went on a personal 7-2 run to extend the Creighton lead to 37-28 with 2:30 remaining.
On their final possession of the half, the Hoyas faced a seven-point deficit and appeared to be in position to take the final shot of the period. Sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson airballed a three-pointer from the corner with :03 remaining, and graduate student guard Rodney Pryor fouled Huff while attempting to steal the ball 85 feet away from the basket. Huff made one of two free throws to give Creighton a comfortable 41-33 lead at the intermission. Foster scored 15 points in the half, while Huff added 10.
Peak scored the first five points of the second half on Georgetown’s first two possessions, but Creighton answered with a combination of dunks from freshman center Justin Patton and a three-pointer from Foster. A three-pointer from sophomore guard Khyri Thomas gave Creighton a sizeable 53-40 advantage with 16:04 remaining in the game, forcing Thompson to call a timeout. The Blue Jays utilized quick pace and excellent ball movement to thin the Georgetown defense and quickly grow their lead. By the under-12 media timeout, the Blue Jays enjoyed a 16-point lead.
“They went on a run. Against them in this building, with the way they were moving the ball and sharing the ball today, we just couldn’t climb out of that hole,” said Thompson.
Georgetown managed to trim the lead down to as little as nine minutes later on a three-pointer from Pryor, but Creighton relentlessly attacked the paint and precisely shot from the perimeter to reopen a double-digit lead. The Blue Jays shot 51.6 percent from the floor, including 54.5 percent from deep in the half and led by as many as 19. The Hoyas, meanwhile, shot 34.2 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from three in the second half. The team shot just 3-22 (13.6 percent) from deep on the game.
Senior center Bradley Hayes did not play for the Hoyas. On Friday, Thompson said Hayes would be a game-time decision.
Georgetown will now have three days to prepare for a date with cellar-dwelling DePaul (8-19, 1-13 Big East) at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night. The game will tip-off at 7:00 pm and will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.
Image Credits: Alex Lewontin/The Georgetown Voice