Another opportunity against a premier opponent turned into another heartbreak, as the Georgetown men’s basketball team (11-7, 4-2 Big East) fell to No. 6 Villanova (15-2, 6-0 Big East) 55-50 in front of 15,535 fans at Verizon Center Saturday afternoon.
The Hoyas have now lost three games to top-10 opponents this season (Maryland, Duke, and Villanova), all by a combined 11 points. Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III declined to comment on the Hoyas’ inability to close out these games, but felt his team had too steep a hill to climb today.
“Today’s game we had too far to come back,” said Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III. “We had a ways to come back and just didn’t have the time.”
Despite only shooting 33 percent for the game and Villanova leading by as many as 12 points in the second half, the Hoyas were able to cut the Wildcats’ lead to three points, 49-46, with 1:04 remaining after a three-pointer from junior forward Reggie Cameron.
On the following Villanova possession, however, the Blue and Gray got a much-needed stop, but freshman center Jessie Govan fumbled the rebound out of bounds. The Hoyas never got any closer, as Villanova senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono knocked down all six of his free throw attempts in the final 30 seconds to seal the victory for the Wildcats.
“We knew it was going to be this kind of game,” said Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright. “Georgetown wouldn’t go away. I thought we made a couple good runs where we had a chance to put them away and they just kept coming back, hitting big shots.”
Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way for the Hoyas with 15 points, while sophomore forward Isaac Copeland had 11 points and Cameron had 10 points. Until their late second-half charge, the Hoyas struggled mightily offensively, as they were forced to settle for many last-second field goal attempts towards the end of the shot clock.
“They were being ultra-aggressive, like they always are,” said Smith-Rivera of the Villanova defense. “Part of it was we had some shots that we usually make not go in and part of it was they packed the paint and were really aggressive on defense.
Junior guard Josh Hart had a double-double, 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Arcidiacono added 15 points to pace the Wildcats, who have won eight in a row and sit atop the Big East conference standings. The Hoyas largely held the potent Wildcat attack in check, thanks in part to a switch by Thompson to a 2-3 zone in the second half. Villanova shot 38 percent overall, but only 17 percent, 3-of-18, from downtown.
“It was effective,” said Thompson. They scored, but I thought our zone against them was more effective during that stretch than our man-to-man. We kind of got back in [the game] when we did that.”
The Hoyas failed to make a field goal in the first 6:08 of the second half until a Cameron lay-up at the 13:52 mark cut the Villanova lead to 35-25. Both teams played evenly until the 7:46 mark, when a pair of Govan free throws catalyzed a 9-2 Georgetown run to cut the Villanova lead to 43-40 with 4:40 left in the game.
“Early in the second half, for a large chunk of the second half it was hard to get a rhythm,” said Thompson. “We just stayed with it, the ball went in a few times and we got some penetration and got some stops.”
Smith-Rivera scored eight of Georgetown’s first 10 points to open the game, as Villanova jumped out to a 15-14 lead midway through the frame. Following a 9-3 run by the Wildcats, the Hoyas closed the half on a 5-2 run to enter the locker room down 26-22 at halftime.
The Hoyas return to action this Tuesday night when they go on the road to face No. 7 Xavier (16-1, 4-1 Big East). Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.