Georgetown’s defense slows down Marquette in much-needed win.
GEORGETOWN 80, MARQUETTE 62
With bulletin-board material fueling one of its most complete performances this season, the Georgetown men’s basketball team took a modest step toward NCAA tournament relevance with an 80-62 win against visiting Marquette on Saturday afternoon.
The Hoyas got a season-high 23 points and eight rebounds from sophomore center Jessie Govan in ending a two-game slide. Junior guard L.J. Peak and graduatetransfer guard Rodney Pryor added 20 points each in front of an announced crowd of 11,386 at Verizon Center.
Georgetown improved to 10-1 this season when those three reach double figures in the same game — and this time, the trio outscored the Golden Eagles by themselves. In the process, the Hoyas earned a series split with Marquette, which had beaten them, 76-66, in their Big East opener in Milwaukee and had been ranked ahead of them in several of the standard NCAA tournament metrics.
Immediately after that first meeting, Golden Eagles guard Jajuan Johnson had said during an on-air television interview that he thought Georgetown was “lazy” defensively.
In response, the Hoyas held the Big East’s No. 2 scoring offense to more than 20 points below its average Saturday. Marquette also went 3 for 14 (21 percent) from three-point range after entering ranked first in the conference from beyond the arc (42.4).
“We had some behind-closeddoor motivation for this game because [of ] stuff going around about defense,” said Pryor, who chipped in 10 rebounds for a double-double, along with two of Georgetown’s five steals. “We really wanted to be attentive going into the game plan the coaches had for us, so I think we did a great [job] of doing that and staying composed and staying with each other and communicating really well.”
The Hoyas (14-12, 5-8 Big East) were crisp offensively as well, shooting 54 percent from the field and making 6 of 12 shots from three-point range, and they outrebounded the Golden Eagles 3928 in their final game before a rare bye week. Georgetown will not play again until it faces 23rdranked Creighton on Feb. 19 in Omaha. The Hoyas won the first meeting, 71-51, on Jan. 25.
On Saturday, Georgetown all but settled the outcome against the Golden Eagles (15-10, 6-7) by scoring 11 consecutive points bridging the halves. Marquette never drew closer than 10 points the rest of the way, losing for the fourth time in five games. The Golden Eagles’ only victory in that stretch came against last-place DePaul.
The Hoyas’ lead grew to 14 points for the first time in the second half thanks to five in a row coming out of the break. Govan had the last three on a foul shot and then a layup, leading Marquette Coach Steve Wojciechowski to call a timeout with 18:12 left.
The Golden Eagles scored six of the next eight points, but Georgetown did the same soon after to claim a 52-38 cushion with 13:18 to play. Reserve forward Akoy Agau then made two foul shots, and Peak made 1 of 2 to expand the lead to 55-40 with 11:29 remaining in the game.
“We had a chance to get off to a great start,” Wojciechowski said. “We missed a couple makeable shots. I think that took a bit of the wind out of our sails.”
Georgetown had carried a 41-32 lead into intermission on the strength of an 11-4 push to close the half. Peak scored the first seven points of the run, and after Pryor and Kaleb Johnson each made 1 of 2 free throws, freshman guard Jagan Mosely completed the first-half scoring with a tip-in.
The closest the Golden Eagles came late in the first half was at 30-28, immediately before Georgetown’s closing surge. The Hoyas limited Marquette to 39 percent shooting in the first half, including 1 for 7 (14 percent) from three-point range, and held a 24-14 margin in rebounding.
An early run, beginning with a layup by Peak, gave Georgetown a nine-point lead midway through the first half and set the tone. The hosts also got consecutive layups from sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson and Pryor, as well as a Govan three-pointer from the top of the arc, on the way to opening a 20-11 advantage.
But the key, the Hoyas agreed, came at the other end.
“I thought our defense today was really good,” Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said. “That is a very good offensive team. Anyone that’s watched them understands that they’re good offensive players and they do good stuff, so to speak. To only let them attempt 14 threes, we’ve got to give our guys credit for how hard they worked.”