Georgetown provided an answer in Saturday's 76-63 loss to Creighton to anyone still uncertain as to what exactly is a Hoya.
It's Greek, or maybe Latin, for “can't shoot the basketball.”
Creighton's defense obviously deserves some credit, but the Big East's most offensively challenged team shot itself out of contention when the game was still in doubt. That allowed the Bluejays, playing in front of a record crowd of 18,859 at their Pink-Out game, to overcome a slow start to get the win that maintained their hold on first place with the conference race nearing its midpoint.
“This was a good win for our program,” said Creighton coach Greg McDermott of the victory over the high-profile Hoyas.
The victory improved Creighton, ranked 24th in the coaches' poll, to 17-3 and 7-1 in the conference. The Hoyas lost their fourth straight game to drop to 11-8 and 3-5.
Make no mistake, this isn't the Georgetown of old. The only paranoia the Hoyas are causing these days might be with their fans when they put up shots.
Georgetown came into its first visit to the CenturyLink Center averaging a league-low 65 points in conference play. The Hoyas would have fallen far short of that norm had it not been for a 7-of-12 shooting surge after Creighton had built a 16-point second-half lead. That boosted the visitors' shooting percentage for the game to .393.
Prior to that, Georgetown had made just 17 of 49 shots (37.7 percent), including 3 of 14 (21.4 percent) from beyond the arc.
“Our game plan was to make Smith-Rivera and Starks shoot tough shots,” Creighton center Will Artino said. “Our guards did a really good job on them.”
Markel Starks led Georgetown with 21 points but went 9 of 20 from the field, while D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera shot 6 of 17 from the floor in scoring 18 points. Their teammates combined to shoot 9 of 24 (38.5 percent) from the field.
“We missed a bunch of chippies,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “If we make those, maybe it's a different game.”
Meanwhile, a Creighton team that almost couldn't miss in Monday's 28-point rout of Villanova had some difficulty getting its own shots to drop against the Hoyas' boot-tough defense.
“We scored seven points in our first 18 possessions,” McDermott said. “We're averaging something like 1.2 points per possession on the year, so that is as poor an 18-possession stretch as we've had all year.
“On the positive side, they scored only six points on their first 16 possessions. Our defense kept us in the game at a time when our offense wasn't itself, and a lot of that had to do with Georgetown's defense.”
Georgetown was clinging to an 11-7 lead as the clock neared the nine-minute mark. That's when Ethan Wragge jolted Creighton's offense out of its slumber, making three 3-point baskets that ignited a surge that allowed the Bluejays to close the first half on a 27-13 run.
Wragge hit back-to-back shots from beyond the arc to pull Creighton into a 13-13 tie. After the Bluejays got a tip-in from Austin Chatman and a free throw from Doug McDermott to take a 16-15 lead, Wragge made three free throws after being fouled on a shot from beyond the arc.
On Creighton's next possession, the senior forward buried a 25-foot shot that put the Bluejays ahead 22-15 with 4:28 remaining in the half.
“We weren't playing our normal offense to start the game,” Wragge said. “We started moving a little bit better, and guys started making that extra pass to get guys great shots right in rhythm.
“Our team needed a little spark, and once we hit that, it was history.”
Creighton closed the first half by scoring on 13 of 14 possessions in building a 34-24 lead. Georgetown managed to cut its deficit to 42-36 when Mikael Hopkins made a jumper with 14:43 left.
With Wragge on the bench with three fouls, Artino then lit the spark on the decisive 16-6 run over the next 6½ minutes. He dunked a missed shot by Chatman, then scored on a layup on Creighton’s next possession.
He later added another layup during the spurt and finished with 14 points, matching his season high and tying McDermott for team scoring honors.
Asked about his dunk, Artino downplayed it. “I was merely trying to do my job,” he said.
McDermott was more effusive in praising his teammate, who added five rebounds to help Creighton finish with a 39-31 advantage on the boards.
“Will was huge, and we really needed him,” McDermott said. “With Ethan in foul trouble, he came in and did a great job on both ends of the floor in bringing energy and finishing everything around the rim. It was great to see big Will step up.”
The Hoyas held McDermott 11 points under his 24.8 average, but the two-time All-American led the Bluejays with 10 rebounds. Wragge got all 12 of his points in the first half, while Devin Brooks added 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Jahenns Manigat finished with 10 points.
“McDermott is such a terrific player — he’s the best player in the country,” Thompson said. “They have the best player in the country and they have the best shooter (Wragge) in the country, and they’re two different people.
“They command so much attention that you just hope the other guys don’t hurt you. Some teams you look at, they have two really good players and their other players are just OK. They put five really good players out there, and if you focus on any one or two too much, the other guys can hurt you.”
Operating against a Georgetown defense that was holding opponents to 39.3-percent field-goal shooting, Creighton made 46.2 percent of its shots. The Bluejays, after blitzing Villanova with a school-record 21 3-point baskets, shot 7 of 21 from beyond the arc.
“You dream about starts like we had against Villanova, but it’s not always going to be that way,” Doug McDermott said. “We did a great job of settling down and getting better looks and distributing the basketball.”
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Video: Creighton-Georgetown game highlights:
Video: CU coach Greg McDermott postgame:
Video: Georgetown coach John Thompson III postgame: