PHILADELPHIA -- Georgetown's recent NCAA tournament reputation isn't a good one. Since reaching the Final Four in 2007, the Hoyas got knocked out in the opening weekend all four times they made it, every time losing to a double-digit seed.
A No. 2 seed this year, Georgetown found itself in a tight, back-and-forth game with No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast on Friday night. But its player of the year candidate said recent tournament losses to N.C. State, Virginia Commonwealth and Ohio didn't make this task more burdensome.
“It doesn't matter,” Otto Porter said.
That's how it will look to history after this loss, 78-68 to a school that didn't exist when Georgetown won the national title in 1984. It was Hoyas' third defeat to open the tournament in the past four years.
Coach John Thompson III couldn't explain it.
“I wish I could, trust me,” he said. “More than anyone on this earth I've tried to analyze it, think about what we should do differently, and I don't know.”
Answers were lacking after Georgetown became the seventh No. 2 seed in NCAA tournament history to get upset by a 15th-seeded opponent. Players didn't want to get into whether the Eagles were a traditional No. 15, though an early-season victory over Miami showed this wasn't a team to take lightly.
Players insisted they wouldn't. And that wasn't an excuse they made afterward, either.
“Our coaches did a great job of making sure that were prepared for this game,” guard Markel Starks said. “It's just that the things that we were prepared for, they still went out and did. They made big shots, they got lobs, they were dunking all over the place. But maybe we just weren't tough enough today. Who knows?”
It wasn't a matter of being physically tough enough. If anything, Georgetown leaned too much in that direction, getting into foul trouble early.
Mentally, though, the Hoyas were lacking. Down just two points at halftime, their mannerisms going back to the locker room were not indicative of a team ready to mount a comeback.
Falling behind by as many as 19 points, the Hoyas cut their deficit to four in the final minute. But they could tell they were out of sorts from the start.
“Once you miss a couple shots that you know that you normally make, you start to feel that things aren't going your way,” Porter said. “Even though we got down, we started to come back. But plays weren't going our way. We knew we were having a bad day.”
It never got better. Starks felt sick to his stomach after last year's second-round loss to No. 11 seed N.C. State, but that didn't prevent another crushing defeat.
“It's an even worse feeling,” forward Nate Lubick said. “You come into this NCAA tournament hoping that something like that doesn't happen again, and it does. We think that we did everything that we could to make sure that that didn't happen.”
But it did. Despite being three hours from Washington, Wells Fargo Center quickly became enemy territory as fans who likely had never heard of Florida Gulf Coast before this week cheered against Georgetown, Goliath for the night. Starks said it was hard to handle when the entire crowd being against the Hoyas.
Of course it wasn't the crowd that made the difference. The Eagles' Bernard Thompson and Sherwood Brown did with 23 and 24 points. Guard Brett Comer made the offense tick.
And Georgetown couldn't manage to get a stop.
“They outplayed us today,” Starks said. “We just didn't have it today. It just wasn't our particular day.”
It's not the first time Georgetown players were forced to concede that it wasn't their day. This was yet another early-tournament, double-digit loss to a much lower seed.
Freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera wasn't around for any of the previous losses, but he and his teammates weren't pretending they didn't exist.
“We discussed it a little bit,” he said. “A lot of the guys on our team that were here last year had a bitter taste in their mouths. We definitely tried to use that as fuel to the fire. But at the same time it didn't work on our favor tonight.”
Florida Gulf Coast's “intensity” level was a bit too much, Starks said. After Georgetown won a share of the Big East regular-season title and had more than its share of big-time victories, it was hard to explain how it came out so flat with everything on the line.
That's why Porter struggled to come up with a way to describe his emotions.
“It just hurts that we lost,” he said. “That's what I'm feeling right now. Nothing else.”
It's all too familiar a feeling for this program, even if none of these players were around for the 2010 loss to No. 14 seed Ohio. This pain will linger, though.
And while Lubick struggled to find positivity, Starks was already hoping to move past this loss, this pattern of bad losses.
“We're going to get this feeling out of our system,” he said, “and one day we'll have our day in the sun.”
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