Failing to learn the lesson from its first meeting with Marquette earlier this season, Georgetown, once again, fell behind by 17-points early on in the second-half against its Big East rival.
In that first encounter way back in January, Georgetown rallied for arguably its most impressive victory of the season – a 73-70 last second win.
This time, however, there would be no miraculous comeback as the eleventh-ranked Hoyas dropped their season finale to eighth-ranked Marquette 83-69 in front of 19,087 at the Bradley Center.
While Georgetown (22-7, 12-6) could have secured a spot in the quarterfinals with the win, the loss pushed the Hoyas into a fourth-place tie with Cincinnati and South Florida.
The Hoyas were left needing help in the form of a Villanova win over Cincinnati to keep their spot in the quarterfinals. That help, however, would never come as the Wildcats fell to the Bearcats 72-68.
“In life, you gotta control what you can control and we came in here with the opportunity to control where we finished,” Coach John Thompson III said in the post game press conference about the squandered chance at a second-place finish.
“We didn’t do what we were supposed to do so we end up playing on Wednesday instead of Thursday. That’s a lesson that’s gotta be learned.”
After losing a tiebreaker on head-to-head results with Cincinnati, the fifth-seeded Hoyas will now begin play in the second-round of next week’s Big East tournament on Wednesday at 2pm against the winner of Tuesday’s 12/13 matchup between Pittsburgh and St. John’s.
The Hoyas swept St. John’s but lost their only meeting against Pittsburgh 72-60 on January 28th in one of their worst defensive performances of the season.
Marquette (25-6, 14-4) will open up on Thursday night at 7pm in the quarterfinals after sitting out the opening two rounds. It’s the best ever-finish for the Golden Eagles since joining the Big East in 2005.
In stark contrast to their previous two games in which the Hoyas yielded just 46 points to Villanova and 41 points to Notre Dame, Georgetown’s defense was porous against a Marquette team that sped the game up to another level.
Marquette held a 24-8 advantage in point off of turnovers over Georgetown after forcing the Hoyas into 15 giveaways. Jason Clark (11 points) had a career-high eight turnovers against that Golden Eagles pressure.
The Hoyas miscues played right into the hands of the Golden Eagles.
“I don’t think that our transition defense was where it has to be particularly against a team like that that excels in that area, you know that’s one of their strengths,” Coach Thompson III said about Marquette’s preference in an up-and-down game.
“They’re fast. They’re the fastest team in this league.”
But that wasn’t the only problem that plagued the Hoyas in the loss.
Georgetown let Marquette take a 39-29 advantage into halftime after failing to convert from the line. The Hoyas shot just 3-of-10 in the first half and a season worst 56 percent (14-of-25) for the game. Marquette made 33-of-45 from the line. Both were season highs for a Georgetown opponent.
When the Hoyas weren’t busy missing free throws they were fouling on the other end. Georgetown committed a season-high 29 fouls which resulted in the disqualification of Henry Sims (five points, nine rebounds) with 9:33 remaining.
Otto Porter, who led the Hoyas with a career-high 19 points, also fouled out later in the second half.
Offensively Coach Buzz Williams got the most of Jae Crowder (26 points, 14 rebounds) and Darius Johnson-Odom (17 points) on Senior Day in front of the third largest crowd in school history.
Trailing 67-53 with 6:33 remaining, Hollis Thompson missed a dunk on a play that perhaps epitomized the team’s performance on the night.
Nothing, it seemed, would bounce the Hoyas way.
Coach Thompson III, whose team was picked to finish 10th by the coaches in the preseason Big East poll, was frustrated with the loss but did find a positive with its timing.
Said Coach Thompson III: “Playoffs started today.”
“Now fortunately, unlike the NCAA tournament, it doesn’t mean that the season’s over but we have to do a lot of things different, unlike today, as we go forward.”
Hoyas Notes: Georgetown fell to just 1-3 all-time at Marquette in conference play. Georgetown’s 12 Big East wins and fifth place finish were both the best since the 2007-2008 season when the Hoyas went 15-3 and finished as regular season champions for the second consecutive year.