Men’s basketball blows by Villanova after losing to Seton Hall

February 12, 2015

Over the past week, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (16-8, 8-5 Big East), came away with a win and a loss, far from playing to their potential.

Traveling to then-No.7 Villanova (21-2, 8-2 Big East), the Hoyas were looking to follow up their performance from less than three weeks earlier, in which they throttled the Wildcats 78-58 at the Verizon Center. Unfortunately, after falling behind early in the first half, the Blue and Gray would never come close to sweeping the season series, losing 53-69.

Early in the game, senior guard Jabril Trawick hit a three from the corner to put the Hoyas ahead 5-2. The Hoyas would miss their next 16 shots from deep, shooting under six percent from behind the arc on the day. The Wildcats also held the Hoyas to 30 percent shooting from the field.

Freshman guard L.J. Peak led the Hoyas in scoring with 15 points, but on 6-18 shooting from the field. Junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, freshman forward Isaac Copeland, and freshman guard Tre Campbell combined for three baskets on 19 attempts. Though senior center Josh Smith proved effective on the offensive end, he was limited to 15 minutes after picking up two fouls early in the first half.

“When you play a good defensive team, like they are—a team that has their size and ability to switch everything—you are not going to get a one-pass, two-pass open look,” head coach John Thompson III said. “You have to have the discipline to stay with what we’re doing and keep executing and hopefully something will open up later. In both halves, we went down because we weren’t disciplined enough on the offensive end.”

Villanova thrived from behind the arc, making 12 threes, including seven during a ten minute stretch in the first half which put the game out of reach before halftime. Senior guard Darrun Hilliard led the Wildcats with 15 points. Sophomore guard Josh Hart added 13 points and senior forward JayVaughn Pinkston contributed 10 points to go along with 8 boards.

“We’ve got to play harder,” Trawick said. “We got to know that we just can’t come out and think that we’re going to win games like this. Playing against these teams in the Big East is really hard. This is really a grind. We have to grind out the game for the whole 40 minutes. And we didn’t do that today. We just have to come together, play together, and play as hard as we can the next couple of games.”

The Hoya team that took the floor in Philadelphia was not the same one that had knocked off a top-five program just a few weeks earlier.

“They looked like we did last game and we looked like they did,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said.

Following the Villanova loss, the Hoyas traveled to Newark to play Seton Hall (15-9, 5-7 Big East) having lost three of their last four games.

The Blue and Gray looked to shake their poor form, jumping out to a quick 27-7 lead, only to let the Pirates pull the game back to 44-44 early in the second half. With over 15 minutes to play, both senior forward Mikael Hopkins and Smith had picked up four fouls and the Hoya offense looked to be losing steam.

The Blue and Gray were saved by Copeland, who started in place of Hopkins and scored 12 straight points to help the Hoyas go on a 17-4 run. The freshman had a career-high 20 points, his fifth double digit scoring performance in the last eight games, as well as eight boards.

“He played like a man today,” Smith-Rivera said. “That’s how we need him to play for the remainder of the season. We need him to continue to rebound for us like that.”

Copeland’s play helped the Hoyas pull away and cruise to an 86-67 victory, despite only receiving 28 minutes as Hopkins and Smith combined for only four shot attempts.

The Blue and Gray have relied on Copeland a great deal in his first season on the Hilltop, but he is undaunted by the rising expectations.

“Going into the game, I knew I was going to start so I felt like I had to make up for the last game when I started,” Copeland said. “I wanted to come out and be aggressive, do what my team wanted me to do. I think I did a good job of that.”

The Hoyas, now sitting  just above mid-table in the Big East, and three losses behind league-leading Villanova, will have little room for error as the regular season comes to a close, with only five more games remaining. Their next matchup will take place at home against St. John’s (15-8, 4-6 Big East) on February 17 at 7 p.m.

Thompson said.

Chris Almeida
Chris Almeida was an editor for The Georgetown Voice and graduated in 2016.

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