COLLEGE PARK — All the ingredients were there.
A revitalized rivalry game, a ranked opponent, a hostile sold-out crowd of 17,950 boisterous fans, and a national television audience gave the Georgetown men’s basketball team a prime opportunity to reset their season after their woeful season-opening loss to Radford. But it wasn’t meant to be.
In a hard-fought game, the Hoyas (0-2, Big East) fell short in their quest for their first win Tuesday night, losing to No. 3 Maryland (2-0, Big Ten) 75-71 at XFINITY Center.
Georgetown had all five of its starters score in double-figures, but foul trouble and the stellar play of Maryland sophomore guard Melo Trimble, who finished with a game-high 24 points, including 17 in the second half, plagued them throughout the back-and-forth contest. In a game of runs, it was the Terrapins’ 21-10 run over the final four minutes and 28 seconds that sealed local bragging rights.
Although the Hoyas played up to their abilities much more than they did in their last game, Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III did not take solace in his team’s effort.
“I don’t anything take anything positive from being competitive,” said a somber Thompson after the game.
Senior center Bradley Hayes and senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way for the Hoyas but were forced to sit a significant period of time, especially in the second half, due to foul trouble. Hayes continued his strong start to his season with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Smith-Rivera added 14 points. Hayes said, however, that he needs to play better defensively.
“Right now I’m not focusing on my offensive game,” said Hayes. “It is more about what I should be doing on defense right now. I think I had a good game on offense, but I think I need to do a lot more on defense. That is where my team needs me.”
While the two Georgetown captains were not on the floor, other players stepped up in their place. Sophomore forward Isaac Copeland and freshman forward Marcus Derrickson helped the Hoyas maintain a lead for the majority of the second half. Both players had 13 points and six rebounds each. Copeland also tallied a team-high five assists while Derrickson shot 3-of-5 from three-point range after failing to make a field goal in his college debut. Copeland had nothing but praise for his freshman teammate who played 39 of 40 possible minutes.
“[Marcus] did great, which is what we expect from him,” said Copeland. “He’s going to come in and play and help us win games. You can be in the starting lineup no matter how old you are.”
The game, the first played by both teams in the D.C. area since 1993, lived up to its billing. The Blue and Gray came out with urgency right from opening tip as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead to start the game within the first few minutes. The Terrapins, however, responded with a 12-2 run of their own to take a 12-11 lead midway through the first half. Hoyas went on a 12-0 run to go up 28-21, after which Maryland responded with an 8-0 run of their own. Both teams then played evenly till halftime, entering their respective locker rooms tied at 33.
“They were locked in,” said Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon of the Hoyas. “They jumped out on us early.”
The Hoyas controlled the pace for a majority of the second half and built up their lead to as many as seven points, 61-54, with 5:48 left in the game. But a series of three-pointers from Maryland culminating in senior guard Rasheed’s Sulaimon’s dagger at the 1:18 mark gave the Terrapins their first lead since the opening minute of the second half. They never looked back. Trimble’s two made free throws with 4.7 seconds remaining capped the scoring and iced the game, securing Maryland’s first win over Georgetown since the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
“On defense, we have to figure out how to stop people and finish out the game,” said Copeland. “This is another example for us to go back and watch some film, and work some things out.”
Thompson was forced to juggle his rotation due to the 25 fouls the Hoyas committed as well as the absences of sophomore forward Paul White and sophomore guard Tre Campbell. White, who was a game-time decision entering Tuesday, missed his second consecutive game with a hip injury and Campbell did not play in the second half after suffering an undisclosed injury. Junior forward Reggie Cameron, sophomore forward Trey Mourning, and even senior walk-on Riyan Williams all played meaningful minutes as a result.
“We didn’t have a choice. We got in foul trouble,” said Thompson. “The guys work hard in practice. Just as important as me trusting them is they trust each other.”
Georgetown returns to action this Friday when they travel to New York to play Wisconsin (1-1, Big Ten) in their first of two games in the 2K Classic. Tip-off is set for 5:00 p.m. The Hoyas will look to avoid starting 0-3 for the first time since the 1998-99 season.
“We have an unforgiving schedule coming up. It doesn’t get any easier,” said Thompson. “There are a lot of things we know we have to go back and work on and we will work on them. It’s a long road.”