The Georgetown men’s basketball team watched its early lead disappear during a hard-fought battle against the No. 9 Villanova Wildcats on Dec. 11 in which the Hoyas fell 76-63.
The Hoyas played perhaps their best basketball of the season in the first half. Georgetown (2-3, 0-1 Big East) leapt out to an early 17-7 lead fueled by back-to-back three-pointers from senior forward Jamorko Pickett after just five minutes of play. However, Georgetown could not keep the early momentum going and struggled mightily on both ends of the floor in the second half of the game.
The visiting Villanova Wildcats (5-1, 1-0 Big East) struggled offensively throughout the first half. Shooting just 35.3% from the floor, the Wildcats only managed to score 33 points before halftime.
Meanwhile, the Hoyas shot an astonishing 58.1% from the field as well as 50% from three-point range on their way to a dominant 46 points at the half. Not only did Georgetown shoot the ball well in the first half, but it also played incredibly sound basketball, turning the ball over just three times despite spreading the ball around for nine assists.
Freshman point guard Dante Harris had a strong performance, cashing in on all his first-half shots on his way to an efficient 9 points in just 13 minutes of playing time.
Freshman forward Jamari Sibley was also able to get three minutes of playing time in the first half. One of Georgetown’s highest-rated recruits heading into the season, Sibley struggled to see the floor in his first five games. Because Sibley only played at the end of the Hoyas’ dominant victory over Coppin State (0-4) on Dec. 8, this game marked the first meaningful minutes for him, and he may continue to grow into a key part of the rotation.
The game was truly a tale of two halves as the Hoyas proceeded to play poorly in the second half, while the Wildcats began to look more like the No. 9 team in the country. Villanova dominated Georgetown on both ends of the floor, outscoring the Hoyas 43-17 in the second half.
In his postgame press conference, Georgetown men’s basketball Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) said he did not think Villanova played any stronger in the second half. Rather, what led to the dramatic scoring dichotomy was a difference in how his Hoyas played.
“I don’t think they did much to change the pace of the game,” Ewing said. “I just thought that we took bad shots. In the first half we had three turnovers. We had nine in the second half.”
Despite their poor performance in the second half, the Hoyas were still very much in the game in the final stretch, as they were up 61-60 with just under six minutes left to play. This would be the last lead of the game for Georgetown, as Villanova crushed the team with a 16-2 run to close out the game. During the Wildcats’ run, the Hoyas made numerous errors on both ends of the floor. Both Pickett and graduate student Chudier Bile fouled out in the closing minutes.
This marks the second time this season that Georgetown has lost to a ranked opponent, the first after losing to No. 11 West Virginia (5-1) on Dec. 6. While the end results were not what Hoyas fans would have wanted, Georgetown has proven it is capable of competing with some of the best teams in the country. After pessimistic early season projections, such as the Big East Coaches Poll predicting Georgetown would finish last in the conference, the Hoyas seem to be capable of exceeding expectations — if they can perform closer to their highest level from buzzer to buzzer.
The Hoyas will have to bounce back quickly as they travel to the Big Apple to face the St. John’s Red Storm (5-3, 0-2 Big East) on Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m. EST in what should be a more favorable matchup.