Georgetown’s season is likely over, but it didn’t end without a good fight. The men’s basketball team (15-18, 8-12 Big East) fought until the final horn against the No. 3 Villanova (28-4, 17-2 Big East) before falling 81-67 on Thursday.
The Hoyas held the Wildcats’ high-powered offense to just 28 points and 40.7 percent shooting in the first half and out-rebounded the Wildcats 25 to 12.
After a solid start to the second half, the Hoyas found themselves leading 37-31. Then after a quick outburst from Villanova, Georgetown was back on top 47-46. Villanova then responded with a 14-1 run to take charge of the game, with two pull-up transition threes from senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono, sending Madison Square Garden into an uproar.
“I know I’m not going to finish at the rim. I know I’ll pass that anytime I’m close to the lane,” Arcidiacono said of his pull-up three to ignite the run. “I didn’t think we had numbers, but [Head] Coach [Jay Wright] always tells me to be aggressive. We do that in practice. If I’m out in transition, I’m pretty much the only one who pulls up.”
Villanova saw 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc in the first half.
“Our threes kept us in it in the first half,” Wright said of the team’s shooting. “We were struggling finishing at the rim, going inside … you know, that’s why we shoot threes. We have the balance where we can shoot them, and there’s going to be some nights you can’t finish at the rim and you have to rely on them.”
Three-point defense proved to be Georgetown’s undoing, and fittingly so, given that it was one of the team’s biggest struggles this season. The Wildcats hit seven of their nine three-point attempts in the second half while the Hoyas watched their season slip away.
Senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes put in 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the game, and sophomore guard L.J. Peak, who has hit his stride this season, finished with a team-high 18.
Villanova junior guard Josh Hart led both teams with 25 points, finishing tough shots in transition. After a nearly flawless first half in terms of foul control, the Hoyas allowed the Wildcats to shoot all 25 of their free throws in the second half.
Though it is not eligible to advance to the NCAA tournament, Georgetown is now eligible to compete in postseason tournaments like the College Basketball Invitational. The history of major-conference programs attending such tournaments is scarce, but Oregon State, a member of the Pac-12, has played in them in the past.
However, Head Coach John Thompson III and the rest of his staff can choose to deny an invitation to these tournaments if one is extended to Georgetown.
“I don’t know what that world is like, simply because we’ve never been here before,” Thompson said with regards to the team’s postseason.
If Georgetown does not play in a postseason tournament, today’s loss marks the final game that Georgetown’s fifth all-time leading scorer and all-time leader in three-pointers made, senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, will play in a Georgetown uniform. It will also mark the ends of the careers of Hayes and senior guard Riyan Williams.
Postseason news will likely break after Selection Sunday for the NCAA tournament on March 13.