After a confidence-crushing loss against Providence over the weekend, Georgetown was defeated Monday by Villanova, 59-56.
Georgetown’s woes were certainly offense-driven. While the Wildcats only shot 43 percent and turned the ball over 23 times, the Hoyas struggled through the game with a mere 27 percent. Although Georgetown threw up 67 shots, they just weren’t able to score when it counted, especially in the last five minutes. Demetrius Hunter had the Hoyas only basket during that stretch, hitting a three-pointer with 5.6 seconds left.
Even though Gary Buchanan’s consecutive free throw streak ended at 73 with just seconds left, that point wasn’t enough to help Georgetown. Braswell’s desperation three-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the back of the rim as the Hoyas lost by three.
The Hoyas concentrated on shooting from the perimeter, taking nearly half of their shots from beyond the three-point line. Although Head Coach Craig Esherick said that he was looking for some outside shots, the excessive outside shooting, coupled with the inability to convert, was especially costly. Both senior guard Anthony Perry and junior big man Lee Scruggs connected on only 1 of 7 three-point attempts. The size difference between the two teams is minimal, making the amount of outside shooting questionable.
Georgetown only had 18 points in the paint. Had they taken more advantage of their inside game, chances are the results of this meeting would have been drastically different.
Esherick attributed their loss to poor shot decisions, but also noted that the team went “helter skelter” on defense. Defensively, the Hoyas gave a weak effort. Poor rebounding on both ends of the court led to easy boards for Villanova, especially offensive ones.
The Hoyas started slowly, a rarity this season, but one that has contributed to most of the Hoyas’ losses. Half way through the first half, they were down 14-7. With seven minutes left in the first half, Georgetown had ten turnovers and only ten points. However, the Hoyas went on a 7-0 run to close the first half with a score of 24-29. First-year forward Mike Sweetney provided the most substantial support for the team, shooting 5 of 9 from the field, pulling down six rebounds and playing tough defense.
The second half provided slightly more hope for the Hoyas. They tied the Wildcats at 31 apiece four minutes into the half followed by a 14-5 run to take their biggest lead halfway through the second half, 45-36. Junior guard Kevin Braswell was a key component in setting up and assisting in the execution of plays. His aggressive defense in the second half resulted in consecutive steals. Braswell’s ability to distribute shone through, especially off of a second-half rebound by senior center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje. Braswell brought the ball up court and dished to the right baseline where senior guard Nat Burton came through with a layup.
Esherick was “proud of [his team] for getting back into the game.” However, the Hoyas once again turned sloppy on both sides of the ball. As a result, the last four minutes would ultimately be decided by just a handful of points.
The officials didn’t help Georgetown, either. Although Villanova’s Head Coach Steve Lappas seemed quite upset throughout the game, the Hoyas were arguably denied some very important calls. Sweetney especially was batted around the entire game and only went to the line three times. On the other hand, the Hoyas’ first year forward Gerald Riley continued to commit unneccessary and costly fouls at inconvenient times.
For now, Coach Esherick is concentrating on winning, stating that “the season’s not over … we’ve got to work now.”
Although he refused to talk about the tournament, Esherick emphasized that he is focusing on overall team improvement. Now is the time, he said, when we’ll see “who’s willing to work and who’s going to jump ship.”
The Hoyas cannot afford to jump ship at this point. With crucial games left against Syracuse and Notre Dame, who are leading Georgetown in the Big East’s West Division, the Hoyas need to overcome their faulty shooting.
They will have a chance for redemption this Saturday on the road at Rutgers. The Hoyas are slipping in the polls, and a win this weekend along with victory over either the Orangemen or the Irish is needed to solidify a decent NCAA tournament seed.