Georgetown was never going to look back on Tuesday as a perfect night. It was lining up to be a memorable one, though, after the Hoyas summoned enough gumption to convert an imminent blowout loss into a potential surprise of Seton Hall.
Then came four turnovers in a four-possession span with less than three minutes remaining, the decisive downward spiral in Georgetown’s 74-70 loss at Capital One Arena.
“It’s just unacceptable,” forward Ismael Massoud said. “When we have the ball up three at the end of the game like that when we’re calling sets, it just comes down to being ball strong and not turning the ball over. There’s nothing a coach can do to deviate that. It’s really on the players. It’s hard to win the game when you turn the ball over three times in a row. There’s no remedy for that.”
Jayden Epps scored 30 points — his third outing of the season with at least 30 — for the Hoyas (8-8, 1-4 Big East), who were seeking their first back-to-back victories against conference opponents since they shockingly won the 2021 Big East tournament.
Instead, Georgetown was dealt a stark message. Yes, it turned in a better performance against a postseason-caliber team than it had in lopsided losses to Marquette and Creighton early in Big East play. No, the Hoyas didn’t do enough to secure a different result.
“You have to finish the game,” Coach Ed Cooley said. “We did not finish the game.”
Al-Amir Dawes had 25 points; Kadary Richmond delivered 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists; and Dylan Addae-Wusu collected five timely steals for the Pirates (11-5, 4-1), who have taken six in a row against Georgetown for the first time since a seven-game winning streak from 1914 to 1952.
“I thought their backcourt controlled the whole game,” Cooley said.
The difference was particularly profound near the end.
With the Hoyas up 65-62, Addae-Wusu forced Jay Heath into a turnover and eventually got the ball ahead to Dawes, who made a pair of free throws. Heath sent Addae-Wusu sprawling to the floor on Georgetown’s next trip down and was whistled for an offensive foul for his trouble; Richmond drained a floater with 1:49 to go, and the Pirates claimed a 66-65 edge.
Whatever Cooley wanted out of the ensuing timeout, it wasn’t what unfolded. Addae-Wusu picked Epps’s pocket and scored a fast-break layup. Richmond then poked the ball away from Massoud on Georgetown’s next possession and added a bucket with 46.1 seconds to go to make it 70-65. The Hoyas never again had the ball with the chance to tie or take the lead.
Seton Hall upended Providence and Marquette last week, noteworthy results for a team plagued by inconsistency in the season’s first two months. That made Tuesday’s game a bit of a barometer for the Pirates, who were tasked with handling business against a team it swept the previous two years.
Georgetown’s well-chronicled defensive woes proved especially costly early in Big East play, and the Pirates were well on their way to trampling the Hoyas in the first nine minutes. Seton Hall built a 24-8 advantage, at one point leading a gobsmacked Cooley to call timeouts after consecutive Pirates possessions ended with easy baskets.
With little to lose, Cooley switched to a zone defense that confounded Seton Hall, which had grown accustomed to scampering into the lane without any obstacles. The Pirates fumbled away 12 turnovers in the first half — nine in the last 11 minutes — and led just 39-31 at halftime despite shooting 72.7 percent.
Seton Hall pushed its advantage back to 14 in the second half’s early stages before Georgetown got back into it. The Hoyas’ belief became more evident as they got closer, crescendoing when Wayne Bristol Jr.’s tip-in with 3:57 remaining gave Georgetown its first lead. Epps’s floater moments later made it 65-62.
But that was the evening’s peak, which came about three minutes too early. The next four possessions were duds at just the wrong time.
While Cooley touted improvement over some of the Hoyas’ missteps of late and suggested they had the potential to be a nuisance and perhaps more, Georgetown is still waiting for a high-end Big East victory to savor, an uncommon experience for the program in recent years.
“I thought we were landing the plane,” Cooley said. “We were in our final approach, and the final approach got really bumpy. We landed it; we just landed it where everybody was saying, ‘Damn, I don’t want to get on that flight again.’ Eventually, hopefully, we’ll land the plane with some W’s.”
Max Shulga scored eight of his 13 points in the second half, and VCU beat George Mason, 54-50, at EagleBank Arena.
Shulga also had seven rebounds for the Rams (9-7, 1-2 Atlantic 10). Zeb Jackson scored eight points while shooting 3 for 11, including 2 for 7 from beyond the arc.
Keyshawn Hall led the way for the Patriots (13-3, 2-1) with 14 points and two steals. George Mason also got 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals from Amari Kelly. The Patriots’ loss ended a six-game winning streak.
— RICHMOND 58, LOYOLA CHICAGO 56: The visiting Spiders won their fifth straight game, improving to 10-5 (2-0 Atlantic 10) behind 16 points from Jordan King.