Trailing by two points as the clock wound down Monday night, the Georgetown men’s basketball team had one last chance.
Porter’s misstep was, in many ways, a fitting conclusion to the Hoyas’ second consecutive defeat. It was their 17th turnover on a night when miscues and carelessness with the ball cost the hosts dearly. Cincinnati converted those turnovers into 20 points.
“We cannot turn the ball over like that,” Coach John Thompson III said. “That was the ballgame. You have to give them credit. But after you do that, most of our turnovers were what I call unforced turnovers. It was just us not being good passers and not being good receivers.”
Kilpatrick’s career-high 27 points helped the Bearcats (13-4, 3-1 Big East) steady themselves after Saturday’s 57-55 loss to St. John’s. No. 11 Georgetown, meantime, lost for the second time in three days, falling to 13-3 and 3-2 in the conference. The defeat was also the Hoyas’ first in 10 games at home this season.
Cincinnati was clinging to a 64-62 lead in the final seconds when the Hoyas had the ball. Porter grabbed it on the low block, but he stepped on the line as he positioned himself to drive.
Georgetown was forced to foul and the Bearcats’ Dion Dixon made all four of his free throws to clinch the win.
“They switched defenses on us, so we just had to play at that point,” Thompson said of the decisive play. “Otto had the ball right there and he just stepped out of bounds.”
Georgetown has committed 15 or more turnovers in five of the past six games. The Hoyas’ 17 turnovers Tuesday matched a season high.
“When we’re good with the ball, we’re a great team,” Jason Clark said. “When stuff happens like tonight, we don’t look so good.”
Almost as inexplicable as the turnovers was the lack of production from Hollis Thompson in the second half. The junior swingman scored all 14 of his points in the opening 20 minutes, including a 4-for-4 performance from three-point range. He attempted only one shot in the second half.
“I got the open shots in the first half,” he said. “I didn’t get the shots in the second half. They guarded me differently and we had a lot of turnovers. Things just didn’t happen the way we would have liked for them to.”
Cincinnati Coach Mick Cronin credited Kilpatrick with shutting down Thompson. “Needless to say, I was a little vocal about that at halftime,” Cronin said. “Sean Kilpatrick was on him the most. He’s really evolving into an all-around player. He was scoring on one end and still did a great job on Hollis Thompson.”
For a few fleeting moments in the second half, it appeared as though the Hoyas might pull it out. They opened a 57-52 lead on a drive by Clark with 8:19 left to play. But they were unable to stay in front because of missed free throws and carelessness with the ball. Then, with 2:12 remaining, Yancy Gates made two free throws to put the Bearcats ahead, 60-59.
Henry Sims (team-high five turnovers) restored the Hoyas’ lead to 61-60 with a pair of free throws at the other end. But that didn’t last, either.
Georgetown was whistled for goaltending, putting the Bearcats back ahead 62-61. Clark tied the score at 62 by making 1 of 2 free throws.
But Cincinnati’s Cashmere Wright made both of his attempts from the line with 1:07 left play, putting the Bearcats ahead 64-62, which is how it remained until Porter’s turnover.
On a positive note, sophomore Nate Lubick had his best performance of the season, scoring eight points to go along with eight rebounds. The Hoyas also shot 59 percent from the field, including 60 percent (6 of 10) from beyond the arc, ending a three-game slump from long range.
But all anyone talked about afterward were the turnovers.
“It’s something we have to take care of,” Coach Thompson said. “We just have to focus a little bit more. . . . We shot ourselves in the foot.”
●CONNECTICUT 64, WEST VIRGINIA 57: Jeremy Lamb had 25 points and eight rebounds as the No. 17 Huskies overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to win in Hartford. Andre Drummond added 20 points and 11 boards for U-Conn. (13-3, 3-2 Big East). West Virginia is 12-5, 3-2.
●NORFOLK ST. 68, HOWARD 48: In Norfolk, Chris McEachin and Pendarvis Williams scored 16 points apiece to lift the Spartans past the Bison (4-14, 1-4 MEAC).