Late Monday night, the seconds melted away at Verizon Center quicker than the fitful bursts of snow that overtook the city earlier in the day.
But the basketball seemed to melt away for Georgetown, too.
Turnovers — including five in the final 5:08 — undid the the No. 11 Hoyas in a 68-64 loss to Cincinnati.
“When we’re good with the ball, we’re a great team,” Georgetown senior Jason Clark said after the team’s second consecutive defeat. “When stuff happens like tonight, we don’t look so good.”
Despite 17 turnovers, the Hoyas remained in the game that didn’t tip off until 9 p.m. That is, until the game slipped out of bounds in the final seconds.
Down by two points, Georgetown brought the ball in bounds with 24 seconds left. The “Cha Cha Slide” had barely finished thumping through the arena, urging the crowd to clap their hands.
But then the inexplicable happened: always-reliable freshman Otto Porter’s high top stepped out of bounds. The referee pointed to the second “o” in the “Georgetown” painted along the baseline. Porter had his first turnover of the game. Eight seconds remained.
That was the game.
“It wasn’t unrelenting pressure,” said coach John Thompson III, loosened tie dangling against his gray shirt. “It was just us not being good passers, not being good receivers. … You cannot turn the ball over like that.”
The mistakes — unforced and otherwise — overshadowed a night when Georgetown shot 59.1 percent from the field.
But big man Henry Sims, in the midst of a resurgent senior season, gave the ball away five times in the face of steady defense from fellow big Yancy Gates. Cincinnati’s game plan included denying him the ball and pressuring him when he had it to disrupt Georgetown’s offense. Clark also delivered four more turnovers.
The 17 turnovers tied a season high for Georgetown, which averages 14.1 per game.
But the problem went deeper Monday.
Jump-shooting junior Hollis Thompson torched Cincinnati for 14 points in the first half, including a banked-in 3-pointer as time expired. In the second half, he attempted just one shot.
“Every scouting report says you can’t let him shoot,” Cronin said.
Thompson appeared to injure his left ankle with 15:31 remaining in the game. He left briefly, but insisted afterward the injury didn’t impact his play — or second-half disappearance on offense — in any way.
“They guarded me differently,” Thompson said in a low voice as the clock crept toward midnight.
Redshirt sophomore Sean Kilpatrick led Cincinnati with 27 points and senior Dion Dixon added 22. After Porter’s lone turnover, Dixon hit four free throws to cinch the victory.
Everything came back to the turnovers.
“We just turned the ball over,” John Thompson III said, then repeated the words. “I don’t mean to negate anything they did. But we shot ourselves in the foot.”
NOTE: Cincinnati freshman Ge’Lawn Guyn was taken to a hospital as a precaution after a scary first-half collision with Georgetown’s Greg Whittington when both players dove for a loose ball. Cronin said Guyn suffered concussion-like symptoms, but was “OK.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
By John Solomon
How the government's punishing of the exposure of official wrongdoing can linger for years
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A mother of three and a passionate conservative, Shirley Husar changes the game.
Eye on Europe, the Middle East and Africa
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention