Unable to pull off an away-game upset, Georgetown fell 66-74 to the Villanova Wildcats on Saturday, Feb. 19.
Entering the game, the Hoyas (6-20, 0-15 Big East) faced all of the odds. The No. 8 Wildcats (21-6, 14-3 Big East) have played dominant basketball at home under the leadership of Head Coach Jay Wright. This season, Villanova has an 11-1 record at home.
Adding to their advantage, the Wildcats entered the game fresh off of a four-game winning streak, with their most recent victory coming over the No. 8 Providence Friars. Georgetown, on the other hand, has struggled immensely in Big East play and lost their last 14 games in a row.
Both teams needed help getting the lid off the basket in the first half. It was not until the 12:10 mark that Villanova first broke double digits.
Then, Villanova quickly went on a 12-4 run. Five of the Wildcats’ first nine points came from the free-throw line while two quick fouls by Hoyas junior center Timothy Ighoefe sent him to the bench and the Hoyas into early foul trouble.
After falling behind 5-16, the Hoyas quickly closed the gap to four points, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, the second of which graduate guard Donald Carey converted into his trademark four-point play after being fouled on the shot.
For the rest of the half, Georgetown and Villanova traded runs, and the Hoyas entered halftime down by a manageable 10 points.
Rebounding and shooting separated Georgetown and Villanova in the first half, and the Hoyas closed the first half outrebounded 16-24. Despite the Wildcats shooting a meager 30.8% from the field, the Hoyas fared even worse, converting on 27.6% of their field goal attempts. Neither team was efficient from behind the arc, finishing the half a combined six for 29 from deep.
The second half yielded significantly more scoring than the first. Two quick 3-pointers by Georgetown sophomore guard Dante Harris and Carey quickly cut Villanova’s halftime lead to four.
The game remained close until a 10-2 run by the Wildcats stretched their lead to 53-42 with just under 12 minutes left. Still, the Hoyas fought hard, running off to an 11-3 run of their own to bring the game back to within a single possession. Carey managed to score five of the team’s points on that run.
The teams continued to trade runs, and with 4:08 left, Georgetown remained down by only six, keeping the upset hope a real possibility. Sadly for the Hoyas, the Wildcats scored the next six points, giving them a 72-60 lead with just over a minute left, effectively putting the game out of reach.
A flagrant foul by Villanova guard Collin Gillespie on Georgetown sophomore forward Collin Halloway gave the Hoyas the ball and some hope, but a quick turnover quickly dashed away any dreams of a miracle.
Despite another tough result, Carey had a great performance. He scored a career-high 24 points to go with four assists, four rebounds and two steals. Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ‘85) commented on Carey’s growth, noting Carey’s contributions to the team.
“He is playing the best ball for us that he possibly can,” Ewing said. “Last year he was not a good defender. This year, he is competing his butt off on the defensive end, and he’s also making shots and making plays.”
Part of what kept Georgetown competitive in an away game against the No. 8 team in the nation was their use of press defense.
“I thought our press was great,” said Ewing. “We did use two types of presses. We did a hard press and a soft press. I thought our guys did a great job of it.”
Ewing highlighted untimely turnovers as contributing factors to the loss along with referee calls going against the Hoyas. For example, a foul was called on first-year guard Aminu Mohammed after a block attempt in the first half. Mohammed reacted strongly to the foul call, causing the referees to dole out a technical foul.
“We had opportunities to be able to come away with a win,” said Ewing. “I thought some tough calls didn’t go our way. I thought that block on Aminu was a great block. That technical foul also hurt.”
The Hoyas’ best shot at a Big East win comes in their next contest Thursday at 8 p.m. at Capital One Arena against the DePaul Blue Demons (12-14, 3-13 Big East). A loss on Thursday, and Georgetown is one step closer to making history for all the wrong reasons.
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