WASHINGTON (AP) — Shut down by Georgetown, Doug McDermott was trying to get open in the lane late in the first half. The ball never made it to him.
Aaron Bowen, one of the two Hoyas most responsible for frustrating the nation’s leading scorer, shadowed McDermott and picked off the pass from Grant Gibbs. The turnover started a fast break that ended with an alley-oop pass from Markel Starks to Jabril Trawick, who celebrated the dunk by beating his chest.
By halftime, the Bluejays were trailing by 14. McDermott finally started scoring after the break, but the second-half rally was far from enough Tuesday night as No. 13 Creighton lost its second straight, falling 75-63 to the Hoyas.
“The team usually plays to how well my energy is,” McDermott said, “and it wasn’t there to start the game. I can’t allow making and missing shots to dictate what I do on the defensive end. I’ve got to do better in that regard.”
Chased all game by Bowen or Mikael Hopkins, McDermott finished with 22 points, 16 in the second half. He went 9 for 23 from the field, including 4 of 11 from 3-point range. He had nine of his 12 rebounds after halftime.
Again, too little, too late.
McDermott called Hopkins “one of the more physicals defenders” he’s ever faced. And he cited the alley-oop to Trawick – who missed Creighton’s home win over Georgetown in January with a broken jaw – as a key moment.
“He brings so much more energy to the team,” McDermott said. “He got that easy dunk in transition, and I felt like that just gave their team a lot of energy and confidence the rest of the game.”
The Bluejays (23-6, 13-4 Big East), who lost at Xavier on Saturday, are left with an outside chance at winning the regular-season title in their first year in the Big East. They will need to win their final game against Providence and hope that first-place Villanova loses to both Xavier and Georgetown.
“We’ve got to flip the page,” said McDermott, who is 34 points shy of becoming the eighth Division I player to score 3,000. “It’s been a tough road trip.”
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 18 points and career-high 12 rebounds, Starks added 17 points and a career-best 11 assists, and Trawick had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Hoyas (17-12, 8-9 Big East), who shot 54 percent and advanced their cause as a bubble team for the NCAA tournament. They also still have a chance to be one of the six teams in the overhauled, 10-team Big East to get a bye in next week’s conference tournament.
McDermott, averaging 26 points entering the game, was held to 14 – his second-lowest tally of the season – in the earlier win over the Hoyas, a game in which his teammates picked up the slack from his 5-for-15 shooting night.
This time, the help was not as forthcoming until the final minutes. Gibbs (17 points) hit a 3-pointer to make the score 66-61 with 1:42 to play, but Starks fed Bowen for a layup, and a pair of free throws by Trawick gave the Hoyas a nine-point lead with less than a minute remaining.
Creighton shot 40 percent and made 10 of 29 3-point attempts. Austin Chatman added 14 points for the Bluejays, who played without Isaiah Zierden after the freshman guard hurt his right knee against Xavier.
“We were really never able to establish a flow offensively,” coach Greg McDermott said. “And we were never really able to get them out of a flow offensively in the first half.”
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