In a thrilling start to Big East play, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (10-2, 0-1 Big East) fell to the Butler Bulldogs (11-3, 1-0 Big East) 91-89 in double overtime Wednesday night at the Capital One Arena. Junior forward Marcus Derrickson led the way for Georgetown with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while fellow junior center Jessie Govan added 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Hoyas, who saw an 18-point halftime lead disappear before playing two hotly contested overtime periods. Sophomore guard Kamar Baldwin scored 31 points and senior forward Kelan Martin added 27 points, including the game-winning basket with 2.1 seconds remaining, for the Bulldogs, who overcame a poor shooting first half to hang with the Hoyas in the second period, before eventually prevailing in the second overtime.
The loss marks Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing’s first as a coach in conference play, and is the second overtime setback for the Hoyas in four games. Georgetown has now blown double-digit leads in both of their losses this season, with the previous one December 16 against Syracuse.
Throughout the first half, however, it did not appear that the Hoyas were in any danger of dropping their Big East opener. Georgetown established its will from the opening tip, jumping out to an 11-4 lead and receiving a big boost from freshman guard Jahvon Blair, who scored 10 points in 13 minutes of action. Along with Blair, Derrickson contributed right away, recording 10 points and six rebounds and defending the rim with success. Georgetown’s gameplan flustered the Bulldogs, who needed halftime adjustments to prevent a blowout loss, let alone achieve an improbable victory.
“We had to do something different with the inside game [in the second half],” Butler head coach Lavall Jordan said. “I thought in the first half the ball stuck too much. They [Georgetown] were the tougher team.”
The Bulldogs made the requisite adjustments in the second half and managed to harass the Hoyas into nine turnovers. Butler first brought the Georgetown lead into single digits thanks to two free throws from Martin with 13:16 remaining, and from there the Hoyas’ advantage would hover around eight to 10 points for the next six minutes. Baldwin converted back-to-back three point plays with 6:37 remaining to trim the lead to six, which the Bulldogs subsequently erased with 1:31 remaining thanks to a midrange jumper by Martin from the left wing.
After Derrickson nailed a three and Martin responded with two made free throws, a memorable end of regulation took place. Mulmore fed a pass down low to Govan, who hit a sweeping floater from the right baseline to give the Hoyas a 75-73 lead with 6.5 seconds remaining. Baldwin hurried down the court and misfired on a contested three, but sophomore guard Sean McDermott flew in for a tip-in as time expired.
“The tip-in, I don’t even remember,” Ewing said. “I thought it wasn’t going to be good [on time], but it was good.”
In the second overtime period, the Hoyas once more had the opportunity to win the game on the final possession, but blew their chance at a shot attempt due to a travelling violation called against Blair. The story was the same in the second overtime period, as following a jumper by Martin to tie the game at 89, the Hoyas could have gone two-for-one to get a quick scoring opportunities and ensure a chance at another shot. Instead, freshman forward Jamorko Pickett lost the ball out of bounds, setting up Martin for his go-ahead bucket. The Hoyas have encountered a number of issues with taking care of the basketball, which Ewing identified as key in allowing the Bulldogs back in the game.
“Turnovers,” Ewing said when asked about what led to the blown second-half lead. “Turnovers. Turnovers hurt us, we turned it over 16 times, they scored 22 points off of our turnovers. All the things that normally hurt us, in previous games, hurt us again today.”
Georgetown’s turnovers were in large part brought about due to a shift in Butler’s defensive scheme, as the Bulldogs started fronting the post with greater success and packed the paint, preventing easy passes to the interior. Furthermore, Butler employed a tactic that opponents have used with proven results against the Hoyas: a full-court press. While the full-court press did not force many turnovers, it did take the Hoyas out of their offensive rhythm and put them into a funk, as they shot just 36 percent from the field. Spacing also became a problem for Georgetown, as the Hoyas bunched around the top of the key and neglected to fill the corners against the Bulldogs’ defense.
However, perhaps Ewing’s greatest concern for his team is not related to individual execution, but about their worrying tendency to let big leads slip away. Afterward, the first-year coach was blunt, but offered his players a way forward.
“It’s a game we should have won,” Ewing said. “We can’t keep giving games away. It’s back to the drawing boards. Our young guys, we have to grow with them, but we can’t keep making these mistakes. We’re gonna watch films and make corrections, but everything starts in practice.”
The Hoyas face a quick turnaround following tonight’s marathon and return to action Saturday against Marquette (9-4, 0-1 Big East) in Milwaukee. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for more updates and breaking news.