MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — No matter what John Thompson III draws up, Georgetown can’t seem to find a way to beat West Virginia.
The ninth-ranked Hoyas had no answer for West Virginia’s 1-2 punch of Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant, got little bench help until it was too late and lost to the Mountaineers 74-62 on Saturday, ending Georgetown’s 11-game winning streak.
“There have been stretches this year when we’ve been a very good defensive team,” Thompson said. “And we were not a good defensive team today.”
Thompson, Georgetown’s eighth-year coach, fell to 4-7 against the Mountaineers. He also has losing records against top-ranked Syracuse (5-8) and No. 8 Connecticut (4-6).
Georgetown came back from 17 points down to beat No. 20 Marquette on Wednesday night but couldn’t overtime a double-digit deficit against the Mountaineers, who shot 60 percent (12 of 20) from the floor after halftime and beat the Hoyas for the fifth straight time.
The Mountaineers limited Georgetown’s back-door cuts near the basket and forced the Hoyas into taking outside shots. Georgetown, one of the Big East’s better 3-point shooting teams, went 2 of 14 from beyond the arc.
West Virginia held a 37-31 rebounding edge and never trailed in the second half, using a flurry of free throws in the final 2 minutes to put the game out of reach.
Georgetown has been relying on freshmen for scoring help this season but the Hoyas didn’t get their first points from reserves until Jabril Trawick made two free throws with 8 minutes left.
“Our attention to detail, particularly on the defensive end, was not where it was supposed to be,” Thompson said. “Most of it was our turnovers. They got a lot of easy baskets off our turnovers.
“We had our opportunities and we didn’t capitalize on them.”
Hollis Thompson, who is no relation to his coach, led Georgetown (13-2, 3-1) with 20 points. Jason Clark, who had 26 points in the Marquette win, sat out much of the first half with foul trouble and was limited to 10 points Saturday — six below his team-leading average. Henry Sims also had 10 points.
Bryant continued his hot stretch of late with a team-high 25 points. He didn’t like the way he played in the first half, when he went just 2 of 8 from the floor. But he scored 19 points after halftime as the Mountaineers broke open a close game.
“I just came out focused at halftime,” Bryant said. “The coaches were talking to me but I didn’t say anything to anybody. I just had one thing in mind — to come out here and help this team win the game.”
Jones, the Big East’s leading scorer and rebounder, had 22 points and 16 rebounds for his 11th double-double of the season for West Virginia (12-4, 3-1 Big East), which now has to travel to No. 8 Connecticut on Monday.
Bryant is arguably playing the best basketball of his career. The senior entered the game averaging 18 points and has reached 25 points in three of his last four games.
“He doesn’t surprise me at all,” Jones said. “He’s just playing at such a high level now. He’s just got that confidence going.”
Jones and Bryant combined for 21 of West Virginia’s 29 first-half points, but some of the Mountaineers’ seven freshmen came alive down the stretch. Reserve freshman Gary Browne scored 10 of his 12 points after halftime.
Jones‘ layup broke a 31-31 tie 3 minutes into the second half to give the Mountaineers the lead for good.
Bryant made two free throws to give West Virginia its largest lead at 62-49 with 4:36 remaining.
“I thought he was really good in the second half,” Huggins said. “He forced things in the first half and he’s not good when he forces things. Once he let the game come to him, he played really well. He’s bought into being a leader.”
Georgetown turned up the defensive pressure and scored nine straight points, capped by Otto Porter’s layup following a turnover that trimmed the Hoyas’ deficit to 62-58 with 2:26 left.
Georgetown managed just one field goal the rest of the game. West Virginia, ranked second-worst in the league in free-throw shooting, hit 10 straight in the final two minutes to finish off the Hoyas.
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