- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - Marquette-Georgetown in overtime? That was supposed to be must-see TV in the relaunched Big East.

Instead, the Golden Eagles and Hoyas are two teams trying to find their way, experimenting with different lineup combinations to stay in the conference race. Marquette came out on top, 80-72, on Monday night to get its first road win in league play and leaving slumping Georgetown still searching for answers.

Davante Gardner scored 20 points, Steve Taylor scored 10 of his 14 points after halftime, and freshman John Dawson had seven of his career-high 12 points in overtime for the Golden Eagles (11-8, 3-3), who were coming off an overtime loss at Butler on Saturday.

“I think God gives you the same test over and over and over again until you pass it,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “Not trying to be a preacher, and not saying I’m prophetic. We got the same test today. … You can either respond to that at some point in time, or you can give in.”

Todd Mayo’s 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds remaining in regulation completed a comeback from a seven-point deficit in the final three minutes to tie the score. The Golden Eagles then scored the first seven points of overtime and went 8 for 8 from the free-throw line in the extra period to hold the lead.

Marquette finished with five players in double figures, and Taylor and Dawson played season-highs in minutes. Williams found success with a tandem he’s rarely used - playing Gardner and Taylor together.

“I would say that’s the most balance that we’ve had in a long time,” Williams said.

Markel Starks scored a career-high 28 points, and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 24 for the undermanned Hoyas (11-7, 3-4), who have lost four of five and suffered a second-half collapse for the third straight game.

Starks and Smith-Rivera made 17 of Georgetown’s 23 field goals as they continue to carry a disproportionate share of the load. The Hoyas remain without Joshua Smith, who sat out for his fifth consecutive game for academic reasons, and Jabril Trawick, who missed his fourth game with a broken jaw and isn’t expected to return for weeks.

Asked if he said anything to his players after the game to keep their spirits up, Georgetown coach John Thompson III said: “I’m waiting for them to say something to keep my spirits up.”

“That was a joke,” he added, without smiling. “It’s amazing I can joke right now. We are seven games into an 18-game season. There’s a lot of season to be played. Are we in a funk right now? Absolutely.”

Thompson said he repeatedly told his players not to let Marquette’s long-range shooters have open looks in the final minutes. Thomas, Mayo and Dawson all made 3-pointers either late in regulation or early in overtime.

“We’ve got to see if we can figure out why we’re not listening better, why we’re not executing better,” Thompson said. “What they did, we knew was coming and they still got it.”

The Golden Eagles and Hoyas were picked to finish 1-2 in the Big East in the conference’s preseason coaches’ poll, and neither has come close to living up to expectations. The game ended a streak of seven consecutive Marquette-Georgetown games in which at least one team was ranked in the Top 25.

Georgetown had blown double-digit, second-half leads in back-to-back losses, prompting Thompson into major changes to his playing rotation. Seldom-used sophomore guard Stephen Domingo and role-playing senior guard John Caprio came off the bench early in the first half, giving Starks and Smith-Rivera a break from the heavy minutes they’ve been playing in recent games.

Smith-Rivera and Starks combined for 19 straight Georgetown points during a long second-half stretch, capped by Starks’ fast-break layup that gave the Hoyas a 56-49 lead with 4:54 remaining.

The Golden Eagles cut into the lead with the 3-pointer by Thomas and a driving dunk by Jamil Wilson, making the score 60-58 with 2 minutes to play. The lead was three after Starks missed 1 of 2 free throws with 17 seconds to play, giving Mayo the chance to send the game to overtime.


Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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