“The good thing, I guess, about the way our schedule is right now is we have another game on Monday,” Coach Patrick Ewing said. " … It’s a lot like the NBA season where if you have a bad loss, you try to forget about it and move on to the next one.”
The Hoyas (6-17, 0-12 Big East) would probably be well served if they developed amnesia about the past two months. They haven’t won since Dec. 15, and they matched the seventh-worst start to league play in Big East history with their latest loss.
But forgetting this one with a makeup game Monday at Creighton (15-8, 7-5) would not be wise. It would mean overlooking Bluejays forward Ryan Hawkins’s season-high 30 points and the complete inability to limit 7-foot-1 sophomore Ryan Kalkbrenner in the pick-and-roll. The Creighton center had career highs in points (22) and rebounds (15).
Creighton hadn’t scored more than 60 points in five of its past six games and entered the day ranked last in Big East play in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com. Against a Hoyas defense ranked last in adjusted defensive efficiency, the Bluejays reached 80 points for the second time against a league foe.
A stoppable force got the better of a movable object, and Hawkins — a star the past five seasons at Division II Northwest Missouri State — played a big part by tying his career high with eight made three-pointers. Creighton also moved the ball well, collecting 26 assists on 30 field goals.
“Georgetown plays two big guys a lot, so their coverage is really to give a quick show and try to get back,” Creighton Coach Greg McDermott said. “We were able to create some separation and get Hawk some open looks.”
Georgetown again hung around into the second half, trailing 42-37 at the break and getting within 50-46 with 14:30 left. But Creighton uncorked a 12-0 run, and KeyShawn Feazell’s dunk with 11:01 to go — one of nine slams against the defenseless Hoyas — prompted Ewing to call a timeout with his team down 16.
The Hoyas got back within seven with a 9-0 spurt, but Hawkins made three-pointers on consecutive trips to push the margin to double digits for good with 6:47 remaining.
Donald Carey and Kaiden Rice each scored 16 points for Georgetown, which is 11 games under .500 for the first time since it went 3-23 in 1971-72 — the program’s last season before Hall of Fame coach John Thompson Jr.’s hire. The Hoyas play road games against NCAA tournament contenders Creighton, Marquette and Villanova in a six-day span starting Monday.
It’s not a promising situation, and the possibility of a winless season in league play looms larger with every loss. However, the Hoyas profess they still possess hope things can change.
“We still believe in each other every day in practice and every game day,” Carey said. “We still approach it as if the record is reversed. That’s how we have to do it if we’re going to turn the season around.”
Here’s what to know from Saturday’s game:
Mutombo’s first start
Freshman center Ryan Mutombo made his first career start, with usual starter Timothy Ighoefe coming off the bench.
“We had to make a change,” Ewing said. “Nothing’s been working, so you make changes. I’m going to continue to make changes until we find a way to get a win, so there will be more changes to come.”
Mutombo, usually the most effective of Georgetown’s three 7-footers at the offensive end, had four points in 12 minutes. But he struggled mightily on defense, and it was junior Malcolm Wilson who began the second half on the floor and grabbed eight rebounds in 15 scoreless minutes.
Kalkbrenner appears to be over an ankle injury that had slowed him of late. His 22 points doubled his total from the Bluejays’ past three games combined, and his 15 rebounds were the most for any Creighton player this season. He also added two blocks.
“His ability to protect the rim and score around the rim is much better than it’s been,” McDermott said. “I think he feels a bit better. It’s good to see him have a game like this as we enter the stretch run.”
In need of threes
Given its defensive struggles, Georgetown’s best bet to stay in games might be its outside shooting. But even that was a chore Saturday, with the Hoyas making just 6 of their 24 attempts from beyond the arc.
Carey and Rice are Georgetown’s best perimeter threats, and they combined to go 5 of 15 from deep. However, both took only one outside shot in the final 13 minutes as Creighton pulled away.