Men’s basketball looking for answers

January 23, 2014

Joshua Raftis

Only six seconds separated the Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team (11-7, 3-4) from a crucial win against the slumping Golden Eagles of Marquette (11-8, 3-3) at the end of an uncharacteristic losing streak in Big East Conference play. Leading by three points, the Hoyas surrendered a fatal three-pointer to Marquette guard Todd Mayo, sending the game into overtime, where Georgetown was outworked and outscored, losing their third straight game 80-72.

“We’re not making winning plays at the end,” said visibly dejected Head Coach John Thompson III at the press conference after the game. “Once again, we’re giving up threes at key times.”

Despite 28 points from Georgetown senior guard Markel Starks and 24 points from sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, the rest of the Hoyas managed only 20 points, a growing concern for Thompson, especially in the frontcourt.

“That’s who we are. I’m disappointed,” said Thompson. “The way teams are playing us … whoever gets the ball in the paint has three guys standing in his lap. … And the guys we are throwing it out to aren’t putting it in the basket except for Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.”

Quite the opposite was true for Marquette, whose balanced scoring propelled them to victory. Senior forward Davante Gardner led five players in double digits, scoring 20 points to go along with four rebounds and five assists. The Golden Eagles scored the first seven points in overtime, a lead the Hoyas couldn’t cut down.

“I thought our poise down the stretch and playing from behind… was really good, maybe as good as it’s been all year for us,” said Marquette Head Coach Buzz Williams. “You don’t have to have a three or a two in that situation when you’re down multiple possessions. You do need to play with efficiency and … I thought our guys were able to execute and make big shots.”

For Georgetown, the loss to Marquette is their third straight defeat in Big East Conference play and their second consecutive at home. In each loss, the Hoyas held at least a seven-point lead in the second half before faltering.

“We are seven games into an 18-game season,” Thompson said. “There is a lot of season to be played. Are we in a funk right now? Absolutely. We have to make the right plays at the right time, that’s what we have not been doing. This group has shown that we can play with everybody.”

A positive outlook will be crucial over the next two weeks, as the Hoyas prepare to face their hardest stretch of the season. Matchups at Creighton, home versus No. 4 Villanova, and at Madison Square Garden in New York City against No. 3 Michigan State, will be key for preserving any hope the Hoyas still have for a 2014 postseason appearance. Additionally, it appears Georgetown will still be without starters Josh Smith and Jabril Trawick, who remain sidelined indefinitely with academic issues and a broken jaw, respectively. Regardless, Thompson and his team are ready for the challenge.

“We have to figure it out,” Thompson explained. “We have a couple of days here. This program was not built to feel sorry for itself, so we have go back and we have to fight.”

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