SOUTH BEND, Ind.
After starting with such promise at Connecticut, Georgetown‘s brutal eight-day, three-game, league-opening odyssey ended with a nightmarish shooting night Monday at Notre Dame.
The ninth-ranked Hoyas fell to the 13th-ranked Fighting Irish 73-67 before a packed house of 11,418 at Joyce Center as Notre Dame extended the nation’s longest homecourt winning streak to 44.
Georgetown (10-3, 1-2 Big East) went 4-for-18 from behind the 3-point arc and converted just 13 of 22 free throw attempts.
“From foul shots on down, the ball just did not go in the basket,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “We’re going to have nights like that in this league. And when we do, we have to be better at everything else, starting on the defensive end. Tonight we weren’t.”
The Hoyas did not enjoy one of their better defensive efforts against the Irish (11-3, 2-1). Notre Dame came into the game leading the Big East in scoring (82.5 points) behind junior bruiser Luke Harangody. Georgetown entered leading the league in field goal percentage defense (.356), setting up a classic clash in contrasting styles.
But only Notre Dame was able to uphold its reputation. The Irish shot 44.6 percent from the field against the Hoyas, went 15-for-16 from the free throw line and parlayed superb performances from Harangody (31 points, 11 rebounds) and senior guard Kyle McAlarney (17 points) into what could prove to be a critical victory as league play unfolds.
The raw numbers make it seem like Harangody dominated from tip to whistle, much like Pittsburgh forward DeJuan Blair tormented the Hoyas on Saturday. In truth, the bulk of Harangody’s work was done in a first half that saw him drop 19 points on the Hoyas en route to staking the Irish to a 39-28 lead at halftime.
For the most part, Georgetown kept Harangody in check in the second. And less than two minutes into the half, the Hoyas had pared the margin to 39-35. When Harangody committed his fourth foul on a charging violation with 15:17 remaining, the game was there for the Hoyas to take.
But open look after open look clanked out. Leading scorer DaJuan Summers (11 points) played just 22 minutes because of foul trouble and never found his rhythm. Sophomore point guard Chris Wright (13 points) endured one of the worst shooting games of his brief career, finishing 5-for-14. And with two of its top three weapons firing blanks, Georgetown shifted its entire halfcourt offense onto the broad shoulders of freshman center Greg Monroe.
Monroe responded with the first double-double of his career (21 points, 10 rebounds), but he simply couldn’t carry the team by himself, particularly given that Georgetown was struggling to produce defensive stops.
The margin teetered between five and seven points for most of the second half before McAlarney provided Notre Dame’s game-clinching surge. The 6-foot guard hit a running 3-pointer from the right wing to put the Irish up 58-48 with 7:08 remaining and then tossed home a 3-point dagger 28 seconds later to give Notre Dame a 13-point cushion.
Aside from Monroe’s continued emergence as one of the nation’s most impressive freshmen, perhaps the Hoyas can take solace in the fact that at least on paper they already have played their toughest conference games. But Thompson was in no mood for moral victories after the team’s first back-to-back league losses in two years.
“Clearly, this stretch was incredibly difficult,” he said. “Three very good teams. Two games on the road. One on a quick turnaround. Sure, it was tough. But so what? …
“We have a long way to go, and we can improve significantly from where we are now.”