Lose Big, Lose Close: Positive Signs in Hoyas’ 85-74 Loss to #11 Villanova

January 22, 2022

Dante Harris pressing Villanova's Collin Gillespie. John Picker

The Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team (6-10, 0-5 Big East) dropped its sixth straight game Saturday, falling at home to the No. 11 Villanova Wildcats (14-5, 7-2 BE). The 0-5 beginning to the Big East season marks the worst start in conference play in the history of Hoyas men’s basketball. 

The game started out hot for the Hoyas, mainly thanks to the play of sophomore forward Collin Holloway (12 points, three assists in the first half). Holloway recently slid into the starting lineup in place of graduate senior forward Kaiden Rice and has been killing it ever since. Strong ball movement led to a 40 point first half for the Hoyas, but the shots stopped falling after the break, and Villanova exploited a tired and small six-man Georgetown rotation that struggled defensively. 

Despite the 40-37 halftime lead, the Blue and Gray faltered down the stretch. After leading 47-39 a few minutes into the second half, a 9-0 Villanova run gave the Wildcats the lead, one they rarely relented the rest of the game. The Hoyas last led at the 10:43 mark, but Villanova graduate senior point guard Collin Gillespie sunk threes on back-to-back possessions and the Hoyas were never within three points the rest of the way. 

Kaiden Rice takes a shot against Villanova.John Picker

Just one Hoya non-starter played more than seven minutes for Georgetown: Kaiden Rice. Rice’s 2-7 shooting and poor defensive play left a lot to be desired. Conversely, the Wildcats received meaningful minutes from eight different players, and the fresh legs seemed to make the difference toward the end of the contest as multiple Georgetown players seemed outwardly tired on the court.

Despite the loss, some positives can be taken away from what is undoubtedly the Hoyas’ best showing of conference play so far. As former Florida State football head coach Bobby Bowden’s famous quote goes, “First you lose big, then you lose close. Then you win close, and finally, you win big.” The Hoyas look to be trending toward the second stage of that path, giving the best team in the Big East a headache for the first 36 minutes of the game. A far cry from Georgetown’s near 30-point home loss to Big East bottom-feeder Marquette just a couple of weeks ago.

The star of the show for the Hoyas recently has been the surging sophomore Collin Holloway. That trend continued here as Holloway racked up a career-high 25 points on 9-10 shooting and added five assists to boot. Sophomore guard Dante Harris added 17 points and six boards, and freshman forward Aminu Mohammed chipped in 13 points and five rebounds on top of a strong defensive game against Villanova star junior guard Justin Moore.

Collin Holloway on defense against Villanova.John Picker

Notably, freshman center Ryan Mutombo received zero minutes for the second time this season. Mutombo’s play has been inconsistent all year, but has shown some sparks of potential. It is unclear whether or not Mutombo’s recent lack of playing time is due to his offensive woes or some other off-the-court factor.

For Villanova, it was Gillespie who was the star. The All-Big East returner netted 28 points on six of nine shooting from deep, including four second-half threes to seal the game for the Wildcats.

The loss was Georgetown’s 17th to Villanova in the past 20 meetings between the two teams. Notably, the Hoyas’ last win against Jay Wright’s squad came during last year’s Big East tournament, where a 72-71 win in the quarterfinals sparked a run that ultimately led the Hoyas to the Big East title. 

Georgetown will travel to the No. 25 UConn Huskies (13-4, 4-2 BE) on Tuesday to try and scrape the zero from the win column in conference play. The Huskies swept the Hoyas last season and will be 17-point favorites in Tuesday’s conference clash according to KenPom. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network at 8:30 PM ET. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for more updates and coverage of all Georgetown sports.

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