Georgetown doesn't keep a record for its lowest free throw percentage in a game. But Coach Craig Esherick, who has been with the program for 23 years, had no doubt today's performance from the line during an 85-69 loss to UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center was the worst in school history.
The Hoyas made 11 of 30 free throw attempts, a percentage of .367, and fell to 2-3 on the season.
"We consider ourselves a major college basketball program," said Esherick, who is in his second year as the team's head coach. "If that's true, missing 19 free throws is inexcusable. You can't win that way. . . . Missing that many free throws--what it does, in addition to not being able to score, it's mentally deflating."
Georgetown, which came into the game having made 69 percent of its free throws, didn't convert both attempts on any trip to the foul line. In most cases, the second shot was missed.
"And when you miss that second shot, you can't set up your full-court defense," Esherick said. "Each time late in the game, we were trying to set up our full-court press and we couldn't do it."
Georgetown struggled in other areas as well. It made only 11 percent of its three-point attempts, was outrebounded 55-39 and committed 26 turnovers.
The Hoyas jumped to an 11-4 lead, but UNLV scored 15 straight to go ahead 19-11 with 13 minutes 4 seconds left in the first half. Georgetown rallied with a 22-10 run to end the half and led 33-29.
The Rebels (4-0) put the game away with a 31-11 stretch in the second half, but the Hoyas had their chances to climb back into the game. Almost every time they drove the lane, a Rebel was called for a foul. Three Rebels fouled out, including two starters--center Kaspars Kambala and forward Dalron Johnson.
"We didn't necessarily foul on purpose," UNLV guard Danny Brotherson said. "But when you see guys not hitting their foul shots, when you do foul you don't feel as bad about it.
"Free throws are a big part of the game. When you're not hitting them, it can suck the life out of you if every time you go down the floor you're not getting any points."
Point guard Kevin Braswell was the lone Hoya in double figures, with 14. He added a team-high eight assists.
UNLV was led by Trevor Diggs's 27 points. Two Rebels registered double-doubles: Kambala scored 15 and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Brotherson had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The loss ended a difficult swing during which the Hoyas played four road games--including three at the Maui Invitational--in eight days. Georgetown took two tough losses to ranked opponents in Hawaii, falling to No. 4 North Carolina, 85-79, and No. 6 Florida, 72-62.
But Esherick, noting he has six players back from last year's team, insisted the traveling didn't play a role in their loss today.
"I thought we had enough older guys to handle it," Esherick said. "I knew the road trip would be tough, especially against the quality of opposition we faced. I still think we have enough maturity to handle something like this."
Now that the Hoyas are headed home, Esherick plans to work on being smarter offensively.
"The biggest thing we need to work on is shot selection," Esherick said. "We have got to do a better job figuring out what good shots are, particularly when we're behind. We had the same problem against North Carolina. They would get an 11-point lead, and our guys would try to get that all back on one possession.
"We've got to move the ball better on offense. Defensively we're giving the effort, but I think our guys forgot we were playing on the road tonight instead of a neutral court or at home. When we got down by six or eight points, we rushed, and when you're on the road and the crowd is into the game, you have to make your passes and move the ball around."
Said Braswell: "We've got a week off. We know what we need to do. We have a lot of talented players on this team. We just need to put it together."
CAPTION: Georgetown's Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, left, finds UNLV defenders Dalron Johnson (33) and Kenny Dye in his way as he drives to the basket.