After having a full week off to prepare for Georgetown (17-11; 7-8 Big East), DePaul (13-13; 5-10 Big East) were not able to put a halt to a three-game losing streak losing to the Hoyas 82-73 Wednesday night at Capital One Arena.
The Blue Demons entered the evening having lost three straight conference games for the second time this season and had struggled especially on the defensive end giving up 87 points per game. DePaul struggled again Wednesday night on the defensive end giving up 49 points in the first half and 82 points in the game.
“At this time in the year, it comes down to one’s ability to play with an extreme amount of passion,” DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said. “Execution has to be precise, and opportunities have to be taken.”
The game started out well for DePaul, especially on the offensive end, with the Blue Demons establishing an inside presence and were able to get easy points inside the paint. Out of their first 27 points, 14 of them came inside the paint and 15 of those points came from their three big men: sophomore forwards Paul Reed and Jaylen Butz and senior forward Femi Olujobi.
Things began to turn after the five minute mark in the first half, however, as Butz and Olujobi only scored four points the rest of the game and Georgetown closed out the half on a 7-0 run to take a 49-34 lead into the intermission.
The Hoyas forced four DePaul turnovers in the final four minutes of the half and 11 turnovers in the first half overall, which led to 13 points for Georgetown. The exclamation point came after Hoya freshman Mac McClung stripped junior Lyrik Shreiner and raced down the other end for a reverse dunk.
“I thought we came with energy, effort, mental and physical toughness,” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing said after the game. “The physical toughness wasn’t as much but did what we needed to do to get the win.”
The second half was a familiar tale for DePaul when they have lost games. After a bad first half, the Blue Demons were forced to chase the Hoyas in the second half. Despite some spurts here and there, DePaul never got closer than seven in the final 20 minutes.
Twice DePaul cut the deficit to 10 points and that’s where DePaul would stall and allow Georgetown to regain control of the game with a pair of 5-0 runs. The Hoyas were led by senior Jessie Govan, who finished with 26 points in the game on 10-of-18 shooting and 3-of-4 from the 3-point line. His impact was felt in the second half, however, as everytime DePaul would go on a run, he would be there to answer with either a 3-pointer or basket inside the paint to take the life out of the Blue Demons.
“When the shots are falling early, that gets the team hyper ready to play,” Govan said.
The main reason for DePaul hanging around during the second half was they limited their turnovers to only four in the second half after having 11 in the first half. Seniors Eli Cain and Max Strus also did their best to get their team back in the game with 26 combined points in the second half. Cain knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers in the middle of the second half to cut the lead to nine at one point, but Cain then missed his next two 3-pointers as the Georgetown lead ballooned back to double-figures.
The closest DePaul got in the second half was within seven points after sophomore Devin Gage converted a 3-point play with 55 seconds left in the game. A promising sign for DePaul, even in a loss, is that Reed had a strong game after going three straight games without scoring in double figures. Reed, recorded his fifth double-double in the Big East this season with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“They’re much improved than they were last year,” Ewing said about DePaul after the game. “But for whatever reason it’s not clicking right now”
DePaul will return home for their final two home games of the season beginning with St. John’s on Senior Day with Strus, Cain and Olujobi all being honored on Sunday. After that the Blue Demons will play Georgetown for the second time this season next Wednesday before going to Creighton on March 9 for the regular-season finale. Currently the Blue Demons sit in last place in the conference, one game behind Butler, Providence, Georgetown and Creighton.
“I think I’ll leave it to Lee [Georgetown’s athletic director] and the other ADs to ponder it…This is the third time that it’s happened to us.” Leitao said about playing the Hoyas twice in one week.