Georgetown vs. Seton Hall: Hoyas again surrender big second-half lead, stumble vs. Pirates


Georgetown’s Markel Starks (9 points, 3-of-12 shooting) looks to carve a path between Seton Hall’s Sterling Gibbs, left, and Fuquan Edwin. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

In dire need of a victory following an uneven season-long, three-game road swing, the Georgetown men’s basketball team failed to score a field goal for nearly the final 10 minutes and wasted another double-digit lead in the second half during a 67-57 loss to Seton Hall on Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center.

Senior center Eugene Teague’s layup put the Pirates ahead for good at 50-49 with 9 minutes 23 seconds left in regulation. A pair of free throws from D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera got the Hoyas within 53-51 with 7:18 to play, but Seton Hall scored the next seven points, getting two three-pointers from senior guard Fuquan Edwin, who had a game-high 24 points.

Playing at home for the first time in two weeks, Georgetown (11-6, 3-3 Big East) lost its second straight game, third in four games and fourth in eight games. It also lost to its longtime conference opponent for just the third time in 10 games and had a four-game winning streak at home against the Pirates snapped. Seton Hall last won in the District on Jan. 29, 2003.

The Hoyas went without a basket (0 for 13 from the field) for the last 9:44 and wasted a 38-28 lead with 19:13 remaining . In its loss to Xavier on Wednesday, Georgetown failed to protect a 17-point second-half lead and did not score over the last 6:14.

Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas with 14 points but missed 8 of 12 field goal attempts against the Pirates. The sophomore guard added five assists, four rebounds and one steal, and starting center Mikael Hopkins had 11 points and a career-high 15 rebounds with three assists, three steals and two blocks.

“We have to adjust, adapt, change a lot of things,” Coach John Thompson III said. “As a coach, as a staff, as a team, we have to go back and try to figure that out. We will. The second half we’re undermanned, but that’s not an excuse. We have enough pieces where we can figure it out.”

Georgetown again was missing two starters, including center Joshua Smith. The 6-foot-10, 350-pound junior transfer from UCLA has missed the last four games while dealing with an academic issue, according to school officials. The Hoyas’ third-leading scorer and leader in field goal percentage has been practicing with the team but not traveling.

Compounding Smith’s absence has been that of injured guard Jabril Trawick . The junior has missed the last three games since breaking his jaw in a 70-52 loss at Providence on Jan. 8. Georgetown’s fourth-leading scorer remains out indefinitely.

“I know what it’s like to play without starters,” said Seton Hall Coach Kevin Willard, who has gone without three starters for parts of this season. “When you don’t have Trawick and when you’re playing with a big guy like Smith for most of the year and then you don’t have that, it’s tough.”

The Hoyas have been trying to adjust to a new rotation off the bench and have been giving extended minutes to certain starters, with Markel Starks and Smith-Rivera each playing 40 minutes in the 80-67 loss to the Musketeers at Cintas Center. Against Seton Hall, Starks logged 38 minutes, and Smith-Rivera played 37.

The back-court starters combined to shoot 7 for 24, including 1 for 10 from three-point range. The Hoyas went 1 for 11 from three-point range in the second half, when Seton Hall shot 52 percent overall.

The Pirates (11-7, 2-3) also went 11 for 20 (55 percent) from three-point range, with Edwin making 5 of 8. Georgetown, meanwhile, had entered the game first in the Big East in three-point field goal defense (.281).

“The ball wasn’t going in the basket,” Hopkins said of the second-half scoring woes that followed a road trip on which Georgetown went 1-2. “Guys were still getting open looks, but we just couldn’t hit the open shots.”

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering many local and national beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He joined The Washington Post sports department in 1990 as a member of the high school staff and worked as a copy editor and assignment editor for almost 19 years.
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