And so the Big East struggles continue for the Marquette Golden Eagles. Although their nine game win streak to close out nonconference play gave fans great hope for the start of the conference season, Saturday's 80-70 loss at the Georgetown Hoyas only extended the Big East struggles which began last season.
Both teams began shooting the ball quite well, and Georgetown didn't stop until the halftime mark. They really heated up after the first media timeout, and balanced scoring combined with their 59% first half field goal percentage to send them on a 15-2 run which opened a 26-13 lead.
Although D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera is undoubtedly Georgetown's star performer and finished with 15 points, they all came in the second half. He stepped back over the first 20 minutes, and allowed the offense to flow. Bradley Hayes, Isaac Copeland and Marcus Derrickson did the brunt of the scoring for the Hoyas in the first period, and the Golden Eagles truly had no answer for them.
On the other end of the floor, Marquette struggled to score and to get their stars involved in the game. Star freshman Henry Ellenson managed just 2-10 shooting in the first half as the Golden Eagles seemed incapable of establishing an offensive rhythm which could keep up with that of the Hoyas.
In the first half, Georgetown's lead peaked at 17 points while seeming like they could score at will. Yet, Marquette managed to cut the lead to 49-36 at the half, giving them some hope of getting back into the game.
When Georgetown scored the first six points of the second half, which included a three from Smith-Rivera as he finally got on the board, it seemed all hope was gone for the Golden Eagles. Still, this team plays with the traits of their head coach, and just like Steve Wojciechowski back in his playing days, this team does not know how to quit.
As is often the case, the ensuing Marquette run was keyed by a well-timed timeout from the coach. After he called a momentary halt to proceedings with 18:33 on the clock, the Golden Eagles turned up the defensive pressure. They forced a sequence of turnovers on their way to a 10-2 run which cut the deficit to just 57-49.
However, they were unable to convert enough clear scoring chances to get within touching distance of Georgetown. Both teams proceeded to trade baskets before Marquette finally got within two possession at 68-62 with 2:47 left on the clock.
It seemed as though they might be able to haul Georgetown all the way back and tie things up before Smith-Rivera decided to take over the game. The Golden Eagles may have done everything they could to stop him, but they were powerless to stop him from scoring 12 straight points to close out the game. He knocked down eight free throws in a row in between hitting a couple of stunning jump shots as the Hoyas sealed an 80-70 victory.
With the win, Georgetown improves to 9-5 (2-0 Big East), and will look to build on the victory when they host Creighton on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, Marquette falls to 10-4 (0-2 Big East) and will need to try and regroup before traveling to Rhode Island on Tuesday to do battle with National Player of the Year candidate Kris Dunn and the Providence Friars.