In their second matchup against the Marquette Golden Eagles (18-8, 11-6 Big East), the Georgetown Hoyas (7-16, 2-13 Big East) continued their recent trend of playing a hard-fought, competitive game but coming up just short in the end. Every time Marquette looked like they were about to pull away and blow out the Hoyas, Georgetown battled back. Despite never taking the lead and going home with a 64-57 loss, the Blue & Gray have plenty to lift their heads about with their performance in this primetime matchup.
The Hoyas fell behind almost as soon as they lost the opening tip. Easy layups and a three by graduate guard Karissa McLaughlin put the Golden Eagles up 7-0 in the blink of an eye, forcing Georgetown’s head coach James Howard to call a timeout less than two minutes into the game. After a couple of subs during the timeout, Georgetown regained their footing with some free throws from graduate guard Milan Bolden-Morris and one of their only two three-pointers of the game by freshman center Ariel Jenkins. A nice baseline cut by sophomore guard Kelsey Ransom with a feed from Bolden-Morris put the Hoyas right back in it at 11-10 with 4:36 to go in the first quarter. But as the night went along, it became clear that every time Georgetown clawed its way back to make it a tight game, Marquette would hit a three to give them some breathing room — this time from McLaughlin. Despite making it a one-point game, the closest the Hoyas would come to taking the lead, Georgetown finished the quarter down 20-12, in large part due to five turnovers in the quarter.
Turnovers and offensive rebounds would continue to play a large role in the game, with 13 turnovers by the Hoyas (with 14 points allowed off of turnovers) and 13 offensive rebounds given up. After another couple of turnovers by Georgetown, Marquette extended the lead to 26-14 after just two minutes in the second, their largest of the night.
Things were quickly devolving into a blowout, with seemingly nothing going right for the Blue & Gray. The offense was stagnant and it looked as if the Hoyas were telegraphing all their passes. From that point on, however, Coach Howard and the Hoyas would dial up the defensive intensity, only allowing seven points in the last seven minutes of the half. A forced shot clock violation followed by a block by senior center Shanniah Wright began to turn the tide in favor of the hometown Hoyas. With a midrange bank shot by freshman forward Brianna Scott cutting the Marquette lead down to only six, graduate guard Mary Clougherty came up with a huge hustle play causing a turnover by the Golden Eagles. All the momentum was in Georgetown’s favor and another last-second layup by Scott allowed the Hoyas to go into the half down by five.
After some fun halftime entertainment at McDonough Arena — including mascot Jack the Bulldog hitting a fan in the face with a free shirt and a student’s airball attempt at a halfcourt shot — the Hoyas were back at it to start the third quarter. There weren’t a lot of halftime adjustments that needed to be made; the Hoyas were playing the passing lanes well leading to turnovers and transition opportunities and were just missing a lot of their shots on offense. However, Coach Howard must have mentioned something at halftime about pick-and-roll coverage because things changed for the better. In the first half, the Hoya bigs were hard hedging the ball handler, allowing the screener — most times graduate forward Lauren Van Kleunen — to pop out for an easy mid-range jumper. In the second half, however, Georgetown was going under on a lot of screens, which gave the bigs the opportunity to stay home on Van Kleunen and not let up an easy foul line jump shot.
In the third quarter, the Hoyas continued to play with a heightened level of defensive intensity. And when that led to turnovers or misses, guards like Ransom would push the pace in semi-transition. The Hoyas again pulled to within one with a jumper from junior forward Graceann Bennett off of an offensive rebound to push the score to 42-41 with 3:35 to go.
Everything was going right for the Hoyas. Every other Golden Eagle possession seemed to end in a turnover or a layup left on the iron and the home crowd really started to pick up. But with every opportunity to pull ahead, the Hoyas never could. Two missed jumpers by graduate guard Kaylin West. A missed three by Bolden-Morris. Another missed three by Scott. And with time expiring, yet another missed open three by Ransom. After making it a one-point game, the Hoyas proceeded to end the quarter with seven misses on their last eight field goals. Quarter three ended with the Golden Eagles up by six, 49-43.
The fourth started off with a pretty corner three from Bolden-Morris, the second of only two total threes from the Hoyas. For as good of a shooter Bolden-Morris is — she’s shooting 37.8% from downtown this year on high volume — she went only 1-7 from deep on Friday night, despite a number of good looks. Marquette junior guard Jordan King then proceeded to dice up the Georgetown defense with a midrange shot, a layup off a pick and roll and an assist to Van Kleunen in quick succession. After Scott was beaten backdoor for a layup by Van Kleunen to put the Eagles up 59-51 with just over 4 minutes left, Georgetown entered into a full-court press on the next Marquette possession.
With just over a minute left in the game, the Blue & Gray were down 63-55 with their hopes of a comeback victory dwindling. They ran a play for Bolden-Morris to curl off a screen for a three. Bolden-Morris was open, the ball went up… and clanked. Down eight, with under a minute to go, the Hoyas elected not to foul, so the Golden Eagles burned as much clock as possible. After a Van Kleunen miss, Ransom pushed the ball up the court for a late two, putting the score at 63-57 with 12 seconds to go. A couple of fouls and free throws later, the Hoyas called a timeout with 10.4 left and ran a sideline out-of-bounds play that ended in a Ransom turnover — Marquette dribbled out the rest of the clock to secure a 64-57 win for the Golden Eagles.
Despite the loss, Georgetown had a lot of positives to take from this game. They lost to Marquette by 36 earlier in the year, and even though they never were able to take the lead Friday night, they were in the game from the opening tip until the final buzzer. While Marquette certainly didn’t play their best game, the Hoyas nearly pulled off the upset and could have if they were able to limit their turnovers and the Golden Eagles’ offensive rebounds.
The Hoyas will enter into their final stretch of this season this upcoming week with home games vs. UConn (#10, 18-5, 12-1 Big East) on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. and Villanova (17-7, 11-4 Big East) on Tuesday, both at McDonough Arena. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for more updates and continued coverage of all Georgetown sports.