Unlucky number: Marquette melts down over final 13 minutes in loss to Hoyas

Freshman guard Todd Mayo had just connected on his second 3-pointer of the second half, this time off a crisp baseline pass from Derrick Wilson, stretching Marquette’s lead to 56-39.

And Just like that the Golden Eagles were well on their way to beginning the Big East season 2-0 for the second consecutive season under Buzz Williams.

Then the final 13 minutes happened.

Somewhere in that final stretch of Marquette’s 73-70 road loss to No. 9 Georgetown, the Hoyas showed why they are a top-10 team, Buzz Williams made a couple of head-scratching decisions and the Golden Eagles were unable to make a defensive stop or find a paint touch when they needed it.

Georgetown made 13 of its last 15 shots to end the game. Henry Sims finished with 13 points. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

An inspiring first half effort defensively that saw Marquette force 13 turnovers against the usually sure-handed Hoyas quickly turned sour after Mayo’s 3-pointer.

Marquette’s excellent first half defensive effort to work through Georgetown’s constant ball screens seen, defend “before the catch” and double down in the paint was non-existent down the stretch.

Georgetown connected on 13 of its last 15 shots (86.6 percent) during a 34-14 run to close the game and, while credit must be given to the ninth-ranked Hoyas, three made baskets came on uncontested 3-pointers and three more on back-door layups.

As Marquette began to implode defensively, the offense simultaneously sputtered.

Through 27 minutes, the Golden Eagles had done an excellent job getting to the paint. Six of Marquette’s seven made 3-pointers before Georgetown’s run came as the result of a paint touch, and the Golden Eagles had 22 points in the paint in the first half.

But after Mayo’s 3-pointer at the 13:13 mark, Marquette had just 13 paint touches in its final 21 possessions and, as a result, went just 1-of-2 from beyond the arc before end-of-the-game heaves from Johnson-Odom and Crowder.

The Marquette offense had no answer for Georgetown's length down the stretch. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

After a made jumper from Crowder extended the lead to 60-52 at the 9:12 mark, Marquette missed its next five shots and turned the ball over five times over a seven and a half minute stretch that allowed the Hoyas to take a two-point advantage.

Despite the terrible stretch on both sides of the ball, Marquette still had a chance at the end thanks to layups from Davante Gardner and Junior Cadougan that tied the game at 68 and again at 70.

But, again, defensive miscues and a lack of paint touches doomed Marquette.

With the score tied at 70 and under a minute to go, Crowder was beat off the dribble by Henry Sims at the top of the key. Realizing Sims’ clear path to the basket, Johnson-Odom cheated in and prepared to take a charge from Sims.

But Sims, statistically the best passing center in the nation, wisely looked up and found a wide open Hollis Thompson in the left corner. Junior Cadougan, guarding forward Otto Porter on the wing, failed to rotate over to Thompson, who sunk the wide open and eventual game-winning 3-pointer.

Marquette then inbounded the ball with 17.3 seconds remaining. Not once did the ball touch anywhere inside the 3-point line until Jae Crowder grabbed Darius Johnson-Odom’s contested 3-point air-ball with 6.1 seconds left. Crowder sprinted to the corner and threw up a prayer

Buzz Williams has preached the importance of out-of-timeout situations, where he is able to draw up a play coming out of a break. The Hoyas were just 13-of-21 from the line at that point, had Marquette decided to attempt a quick two and foul. Instead, Marquette made three hand offs and took a contested 3-pointer while the game clock, and all hope, quickly wound down.

There’s something to be said for having a 17-point lead on the road against the No. 9 team in the nation, but the final 13+ minutes could not have gone worse for Buzz Williams and Marquette.

There’s sure to be adverse situations in the Carrier Dome when Marquette takes on No. 1 Syracuse on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully Williams and the Golden Eagles are better prepared to handle it than they were last night.

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