Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hoya Hoops Fall Short in Big East Battles

Charles Nailen/The Hoya Sophomore guard Ashanti Cook tries to get a shot off over the hands of senior guard Derrick Snowden. Villanova had no trouble overcoming Georgetown 75-60 last night at MCI Center.

The Georgetown men’s basketball team blew its chance to get back to .500 in the Big East, falling 75-60 to Villanova at MCI Center on Thursday night.

The Hoyas traded leads with the Wildcats (13-8, 5-3 Big East) up until the middle of the second half, when Villanova made a 19-2 run. Georgetown (12-6, 3-5 Big East) then had to try to get back into it with full-court pressure defense, a strategy that worked in Saturday’s overtime win against Miami.

But the Hoyas’ defense was unsuccessful, as the Wildcats kept up their strong shooting and took advantage of Georgetown’s foul trouble.

“You can’t beat anybody if you play defense and rebound the way we did,” Head Coach Craig Esherick said.

Villanova shot 50.9 percent from the floor in the game and had 34 points in the paint. The Wildcats also outrebounded the Hoyas 38-25.

The Hoyas’ defense looked flimsy from the outset, when they opened the game in a zone that led to three quick dunks by sophomore forward Jason Fraser. Each time, Georgetown senior center Courtland Freeman appeared helpless, allowing Fraser to jam it two-handed, resulting in Villanova’s first six points in the game.

Wildcats sophomore forward Curtis Sumpter scored more or less at will, finishing with 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

“We have to figure out how to be a better post defensive team and how to be a better rebounding team, and we have to do it now,” Esherick said. “It’s not that we’re small, and it’s not that we’re young; we have to do it with the people we have, and we can do it with the people that we have.”

But as much damage as the Villanova big men did, it was a guard, senior Derrick Snowden, who finally put the game out of reach with swift efficiency. He came off the bench to hit three three-pointers in Villanova’s deadly second-half run.

“I think it’s that stretch where Snowden had those big threes,” sophomore forward Brandon Bowman said. “That opened the game. They took advantage of that.”

The Hoyas found themselves in a situation similar to the one they faced on Saturday, when the team let Miami get out to a 12-point lead in the middle of the second half and then had to put the pressure on.

“I told them when we got down 10 in the second half that we were in the same position the last game – let’s buckle our belts, play good solid defense and we could come back,” Esherick said.

Georgetown had some offensive opportunities after that point, but they simply were not as dominant as they had been on Saturday, when they shot 59.3 percent in the second half.

The Hoyas also did not have the luxury of a 35-point performance from senior guard Gerald Riley, which they got against Miami. In the past two games he had appeared to break out of a shooting slump, but against Villanova, Riley was 5-of-15 for 13 points. He committed his third foul with a little over four minutes left in the first half.

Bowman was the high scorer, adding 18, and sophomore point guard Ashanti Cook was 5-of-6 for 12 points in the first half, after which he did not score again.

“I don’t think offense was an issue,” Esherick said.

The win gives Georgetown even more of a sense of urgency heading into Saturday’s rematch with Miami. Prior to the game, Esherick had emphasized the importance of winning conference games at home.

The Hoyas spend the next week and a half on the road at Virginia Tech, Temple and St. John’s, and the games against the Hokies and Red Storm are essentially must-wins. Those two teams are the last two in the conference, meaning Georgetown must stay ahead of them to make the Big East tournament in March.

“We needed to win this game,” Esherick said. “We can’t play like this again.”

Notes:

Riley was named player of the week after averaging 28.5 points and shooting 62.5 percent in the loss to Providence and win over iami. He scored 35 against the Hurricanes, including seven in overtime.

Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet (SFS ’76), a season-ticket holder, attended the game after giving a major speech in Gaston Hall Thursday morning. He ended his remarks on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq by saying, “Let’s beat Villanova tonight!”

L.A. Clippers Head Coach Mike Dunleavy was also in attendance to watch his son, Baker Dunleavy, who plays for Villanova.

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