- - Saturday, March 3, 2012

MILWAUKEE — Georgetown fumbled its date with destiny on Saturday.

An 83-69 Big East loss to Marquette cost the Hoyas the overall No. 2 seed in next week’s conference tournament. The setback pushed the Hoyas down to No. 5 against a first-round foe still to be determined.


It wasn’t the way Georgetown wanted Saturday’s regular-season finale to play out.

“In life, you’ve got to control what you can control,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. “We came in here with the opportunity to control where we finished and we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.

Poor Hoya shooting and too many fouls allowed host Marquette to snatch that elevated spot for itself at a raucous, sold-out Bradley Center.

Golden Eagles’ forward Jae Crowder led a balanced attack with a game-high 26 points and career-high 14 rebounds as the No. 8 Golden Eagles (25-6, 14-4) clinched their best regular season Big East finish since joining in 2005-06.

“Those kids really want to win, and they prove that on a daily basis,” said Marquette coach Buzz Williams. “We were playing for second place in the best league in the country, most number of wins, undefeated (9-0) at home.”

Otto Porter and Hollis Thompson each had 19 points for the No. 11 Hoyas (22-7, 12-6) who were just 25-for-63 from the field. The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, turned Georgetown’s 29 fouls into a 33-for-45 performance from the line.

Joining Porter and Hollis Thompson in double figures was guard Jason Clark (11 points).

Darius Johnson-Odum had 17 points, Vander Blue had 13 and Jamil Wilson added 11 for Marquette.

Saturday’s game had a promising start as an early Hoya 10-2 run — capped by Thompson’s 3-pointer — opened a 12-9 lead at the 14:16 mark.

But the advantage was short-lived as Marquette replied with an 11-4 run for a 20-14 lead. The Golden Eagles maintained that pace the rest of the way and Johnson-Odum later hit two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to open a 39-29 halftime lead, Marquette’s biggest of the half.

“They’re a good transition team, and they were able to get out and run and score baskets,” Clark said.

Thompson had a team-high 10 first-half points, but his 3-for-10 shooting almost perfectly aligned with the Hoyas’ collectively poor 33 percent effort from the field.

The Golden Eagles were 12-for-26  and dominated inside with a 20-8 advantage inside the paint.

“I think the biggest difference was with us,” John Thompson III said. “I think our decision-making wasn’t as good as it has been and could be … particularly early on. And that led into their success.

“They’re a hard team to guard, they’re a very good offensive team and not too many people have had success guarding them,” he added. “When you play them, we have to make sure we get good shots, and we didn’t do a very smart job of that today.”

Marquette kept the pressure on early in the second half, opening its biggest lead at 48-31 by the 17:55 mark after a Johnson-Odom 3-pointer followed by a Crowder steal and feed to Wilson for a jam.

The Hoyas weren’t quite ready to fold. They nearly halved the deficit over the next 3:15 to 51-43 on Porter’s baseline jumper.

But foul troubles started taking a toll. Hollis Thompson sat for several minutes after collecting his fourth foul. Henry Sims joined him on the bench the 13:42 mark also with four.

Sims then fouled out with 9:33 to play after Marquette’s Johnson-Odom executed a steal.

Georgetown was looking for  a season sweep of Marquette after a 73-70 home win on Jan. 4. The Hoyas’ 13 regular season Big East victories are still the most since 2005-06.

Regular-season champion Syracuse had already clinched the No. 1 seed.

Georgetown will play at 2 p.m. Wednesday against the winner of the first round No. 12 vs. 13 seeds. A tournament status update on Saturday morning had Pitt meeting Rutgers for the right to advance and meet the Hoyas.

“We’ve got to do things differently going forward — unlike today,” John Thompson III said.

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