Shot down: Musketeers ruin Hoyas’ rise into top 25

January 29, 2015

It was a decidedly mixed week for the Georgetown men’s basketball team (14-6, 6-3 Big East).

On one hand, the game against Marquette (10-9, 2-5 Big East) last weekend saw the continued emergence of the freshman class in the most thrilling conference game so far this season, all of which resulted in the Hoyas climbing to the top of the Big East standings and into the national rankings for the second time this season.  On the other hand, the Hoyas’ stay at No. 21 in the polls will likely be short-lived, as they fell 66-53 to Xavier (14-7, 5-4 Big East) on Tuesday in an abysmal offensive showing.

For some reason, Marquette and Georgetown always seem to need all 40 minutes of regulation—more, even—to decide the game. Saturday was no exception, as the Hoyas defeated the Golden Eagles in a 95-85 overtime shootout.

Junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas with 19 points on the night, but his hot shooting was more than matched by Marquette’s Matt Carlino and Duane Wilson, who combined to go 11-16 from three-point range.

“We have to do a better job,” Coach Thompson said. “We gave up key shots that if we don’t let them get it off and if we contest it, we go home in regulation.”

The game saw five Hoyas post scoring totals in double figures. The Hoyas’ big men proved crucial, with senior forward Joshua Smith submitting his most complete performance in a Georgetown uniform, scoring 18 and pulling down 15 rebounds, while senior forward Mikael Hopkins drained 11 of his 12 free throw attempts.

For a moment at the end of regulation, it seemed the Hoyas had lost, but the officials ruled that Matt Carlino’s jumper as time expired was a two point shot—not the three pointer which would have given the Golden Eagles a one-point victory.  In overtime, the Hoyas outscored their opponents 14-4, with freshman guard Tre Campbell sinking a crucial three to put the game firmly in hand. The game was a battle; it featured 16 lead changes and injuries to two Georgetown starters: senior guard Jabril Trawick and freshman guard L.J. Peak.

“Every Big East contest is going to be like that. Every one has been. Every one will be,” Coach Thompson said.

Once again the Hoyas came into a game against Xavier having just earned a national ranking, similar to their Dec. 31 meeting where the Hoyas entered the game ranked No. 25 and lost to the Musketeers 70-53. This time around, the Xavier defeated the Hoyas 66-53 at the Verizon Center.

The game opened slowly for both teams, but eventually the Musketeers found their rhythm. The Hoyas, on the other hand, could not make anything go offensively for the entire first half—the score at the halftime break was 29-16 in Xavier’s favor. In the opening frame, the Hoyas managed to score only four field goals while turning the ball over 13 times.

“As well as they were prepared, and as well as they played us, a lot of those were just plays you can’t make,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “I don’t think it’s a question of energy. I don’t think we were lethargic out there, I just thought we made mistakes.”

A combination of factors hurt the home team during its lackluster half. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, the Hoyas’ leading scorer, had zero points on zero shot attempts.

“They did an outstanding job. They made it hard for [Smith-Rivera] to breathe, which happens when you’re as good as D’Vauntes is,” Thompson said.

On top of the turnovers and scoring woes, Georgetown failed to give itself many second chances, finishing the half with no offensive rebounds and no points off of the fast break.

“The turnovers, particularly in the first half, really dug a hole for ourselves against a good team,” Coach Thompson said. “Every team in this league is a good team and the hole was just too big to climb out of.”

The Hoyas would hang around for the remainder of the game, at one point cutting the Musketeers’ lead to 7 points, but that was as close as the score would get.  Smith-Rivera found his offensive touch, finishing with a team-high 13 points, all of which came in the second half.

For Xavier, Myles Davis went 3-of-5 from three point range and finished as the game’s leading scorer with 19 points, while Matt Stainbrook scored 12 points and limited senior forward Joshua Smith to only 10 points in a battle of giants in the post.

“It was a bad loss. It’s a hard loss. Every loss is a bad loss and a hard loss,” Thompson said.

The team looks to get back on track as they travel to face Creighton (9-12, 0-8 Big East) on Saturday.

“We don’t have to go back to the drawing board, we just have to be better,” Thompson said.


Kevin Huggard
Class of '17. Formerly EIC and writer/editor for mostly sports and opinions. Halftime forever. On twitter as @kevinhuggard.

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