Eventually, Seton Hall was going to get burned. At some point, the Pirates were going to play with fire one too many times.
Seton Hall was fortunate to get past Marquette and DePaul in the past week, but wasn’t so lucky on Saturday. Georgetown is playing far better than those aforementioned foes, and Seton Hall learned that the hard way. The Hoyas handed the Pirates an 81-75 setback in the nation’s capital, a loss that could be the difference between making the NCAA Tournament and missing it.
“When you play against a team that’s coming off a bye week, you’ve got to make sure you’re coming in and execute defensively,” said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, who felt his team didn’t have enough in the tank while playing its third game in six games. “We just didn’t execute defensively.”
Georgetown (7-10, 5-7 Big East) was the better team. Far more rested, the Hoyas played with more sustained effort. They were lights-out from 3-point range — the Hoyas went 10-for-16 from deep and Donald Carey notched two four-point plays in the second half — and responded when Seton Hall (13-9, 10-6) went ahead early in the second half. The Hoyas held Pirates star Sandro Mamukelashvili to four points over the final 14-plus minutes, and executed down the stretch, looking more like the team that was in the mix for the tournament.
After Seton Hall pulled even with 5:06 left, Carey’s second four-point play gave the Hoyas the lead for good. In the final 3:26, Seton Hall made three costly turnovers and couldn’t get stops. Georgetown hit four of its last five attempts from the field, as Jamorko Pickett (20 points) and Dante Harris (14 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) took turns making big plays.
“I just thought we let them get off to too good of a start shooting the basketball, then we just had some breakdowns in the second half where they hit some really tough shots,” Willard said.
The loss, a Quad 2 defeat, snapped the Pirates’ four-game winning streak and hurt their résumé. They are now firmly on the NCAA Tournnament bubble. Mamukelashvili had 22 points, but didn’t get much help. Jared Rhoden was held scoreless in the second half and Myles Cale scored just eight points on 3-for-10 shooting. The continued absence of point guard Bryce Aiken, who missed his third straight game with an ankle injury, has begun to take its toll. Shavar Reynolds wore down in the second half.
“It’s a big loss, but I think we’ve just got to get other guys to step up right now,” Willard said.
After trailing by as many as 12 in the first half, Seton Hall held a five-point lead early in the second half. Mamukelashvili scored 10 points in the first 5:47 of the stanza. But Georgetown ripped off a 17-4 run that was capped by the first of Carey’s four-point plays. When the Pirates got even, Carey answered with his second four-point play, giving Georgetown the lead for good. Seton Hall couldn’t survive another disjointed performance.
“I thought the effort was great, [but] we just didn’t have it from a mental standpoint today,” Willard said.