In another game defined by Hoya defensive woes, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (6-20, 1-14 BIG EAST) were easily dispatched by the No. 10 Marquette Golden Eagles (20-6, 12-3 BIG EAST), 89-75, on Saturday afternoon. The biggest story of this game, however, was not the final score, but instead a key cog in the Hoyas’ rotation absent from the sidelines.
Following the announcement that starting senior center and boomerang transfer Qudus Wahab would not suit up for Georgetown, rumors swirled across the Internet about why the long-time Hoya and part-time Terp was not in the lineup. While it’s still unclear what’s happening there, it was quickly noticeable how much the Hoyas missed Wahab on the court.
In the opening minutes of the game, with sophomore center Bradley Ezewiro replacing Wahab in the Hoyas’ starting lineup, Marquette and Georgetown traded points back and forth.
But unfortunately for Georgetown, as per usual, they were not able contain their opposition from range. The Golden Eagles quickly mounted a double digit lead via a 12-2 run featuring two made three-point shots.
With the score at 17-6 almost midway through the first frame, and the Georgetown starters with a combined one made field goal, Head Coach Patrick Ewing made a big change, going to his bench and bringing sophomore guard Jordan Riley and sophomore center Ryan Mutombo onto the floor. With the two remaining players from Ewing’s once-heralded 2021 high school recruiting class on the floor, the Hoyas were able to trim the deficit to five points on a couple occasions, but couldn’t pull any closer. Mutombo in particular helped buoy the Hoya’s struggles at center, quickly scoring in close to the basket twice after coming off the bench.
Once again, however, back-to-back threes by the Eagles brought the deficit back to 11, and despite senior guard Jay Heath’s and senior forward Akok Akok’s best attempts, Georgetown went into the break down 45-33. Mutombo and Riley were the only Hoyas with a non-negative box-plus-minus.
The second half started similar to the first. Marquette wasted no time building up their lead by making a couple more shots from deep, with Georgetown struggling to keep pace, and pulled ahead 53-36. The game would continue to teeter on the edge of a true blowout for the next several minutes, and despite Riley and Mutombo bringing the spark off the bench in the first half, Riley did not re-enter the game until there were twelve minutes remaining in the game. Mutombo did not see the floor until there were under four minutes remaining, and the Hoyas were down 83-62.
Defensive issues once again plagued Georgetown, as they were easily handled by Marquette–who led by as many as 25–by a final score of 89-75 Golden Eagles. Marquette shot 15-of-31 from three, a season high in makes, while also shooting above 50 percent overall from the field. Heath led the game in scoring with 18 points, while sophomore point guard Tyler Kolek and sophomore forward Oso Ighodaro led the Golden Eagles with 14 a piece.
Despite finishing tied for second in plus-minus for the game (behind Akok), Riley and Mutombo spent only a combined 22 minutes on the floor, notably finishing better than three starters for Georgetown: Ezewiro (-18), Murray (-16), and Heath (-10) on a per-minute plus-minus basis. Single game plus-minus can be finicky, but Mutombo finished with seven points and four rebounds in eight minutes of action and Riley had five and four in fourteen minutes, so perhaps they should have gotten more playing time before the game slipped away. Ezewiro, in place of Wahab, finished with seven and nine in 24 minutes, going 3-of-7 from the free-throw line.
The Georgetown men will next take the court on the road against Seton Hall (15-11, 8-7 BIG EAST) on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 6:00 p.m. For continued coverage of all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.