Down two with 2:18 left in regulation, the Georgetown men’s basketball team set itself up for an upset comeback victory against the No. 2 team in the nation. However, defensive breakdowns and mental lapses halted Georgetown’s efforts, as the Villanova Wildcats pulled away with a 75-64 victory.
Villanova’s (23-2, 10-2 Big East) veteran roster stayed composed during Georgetown’s (13-12, 4-8 Big East) late game run and — thanks to senior guard Josh Hart — was able to extend its lead when the Hoyas began to collapse.
“You fight and claw to get back in it, and then you end it with them going on a run,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “That’s what good teams do, and they’re a veteran team, and they play great together.”
Graduate student and junior guards Rodney Pryor and LJ Peak led the Hoyas’ offensive efforts, scoring 20 and 21 points. Pryor and Peak were the sole Georgetown players to eclipse the double-digit point mark, with senior center Bradley Hayes being the next closest player with six. The lack of depth scoring for the Hoyas inhibited the team’s ability to create an offensive rhythm.
Hart posted a game-high 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting to go along with his seven rebounds. Freshman guard Donte DiVincenzo contributed 15 points and six rebounds off the bench and played an integral part in the Wildcats’ offense in the second half.
The first half featured a lackluster effort by the Hoyas who had eight turnovers in the game’s first 20 minutes — including three by Peak. Sophomore center Jessie Govan played seven minutes in the first half due to foul trouble and finished the game with four points.
The Wildcats enjoyed a solid shooting performance in the opening half, shooting 63 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from three-point range. Hart scored 17 points in 19 minutes in the first half to give Villanova a 43-28 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Georgetown’s defense shined as it held Villanova’s top three scorers — Hart, sophomore guard Jalen Brunson and senior forward Kris Jenkins — to 0-of-15 field goal shooting for the first 18:34 minutes of the half. The Hoyas forced five turnovers in the half, disrupting any offensive rhythm the Wildcats attempted to create.
A three-pointer by sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson at the 7:55 minute mark cut the Villanova lead to single digits for the first time since the Wildcats led 23-15 midway through the first half. Derrickson finished the game with five points while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out three assists.
With just four minutes remaining in the game, junior guard Jonathan Mulmore stole the ball from Brunson, leading to a Pryor jumper on the other end to cut Villanova’s lead to 60-58. However, the two-point deficit was as close as the Hoyas would get.
“A gutsy effort by Georgetown,” Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said of the Hoyas’ comeback bid. “You have to give Georgetown a lot of credit for continuing to make plays and not going away.”
Brunson avenged his turnover by coming up with a steal against Peak, leading to a Hart three-pointer to extend the Wildcat’s lead to seven. Hart scored seven of his eight second-half points in the game’s final 1:26 minutes to secure the Villanova victory.
“It’s all about getting defensive stops and not getting ourselves down in that position,” Pryor said of his team’s failed comeback bid. “It is about getting stops and making shots on the offensive end.”
Georgetown played the game just one day after its traffic accident on I-95 on the way to Philadelphia. No major injuries were sustained.
“I don’t think it was on anybody’s mind,” Pryor said on if the accident served as a distraction for the team. “We recovered well from it, so we came in with the right mindset.”
For its next game, Georgetown hosts the Marquette Golden Eagles (15-9, 6-6 Big East) on Saturday at 12 p.m. at the Verizon Center.