Georgetown falls to Villanova at home – three questions for the Hoyas going forward

Published February 17, 2024

Photo by Daniel Rankin

The Georgetown Hoyas (8-17, 1-13 BIG EAST) welcomed the Villanova Wildcats (14-11, 7-7 BIG EAST) to the District for some Friday night hoops at Capital One Arena. Unfortunately for first-year head coach Ed Cooley and his Hoyas, their nine-game skid turned to double digits with a dispiriting 70-54 loss to a middling Villanova team stuck in year two of life after the retirement of legendary coach Jay Wright. Despite what the score might tell you, the game remained competitive up until mid-way through the second half. In keeping with that glass half-full approach, here are three questions about the Hoyas to consider for the rest of the season:

1 – Is Rowan Brumbaugh’s production sustainable?

After subbing in with 11:30 to go in the first half, freshman guard Rowan Brumbaugh received a pass on the right wing and immediately drove inside and finished with a pretty reverse lay-up. The next possession down the floor, Brumbaugh found senior forward Supreme Cook inside for a nice little hook shot. Brumbaugh would not leave the floor for the rest of the game. 

Following an efficient 11-point game on 5-6 shooting in just 13 minutes versus Creighton earlier in the week, Brumbaugh solidified his spot not just in the rotation, but as an integral part of the Hoya offense. He finished the Villanova game with 14 points on 6-10 shooting and 5 assists — leading the Hoyas in both categories. But it wasn’t just his impressive counting numbers, it was how he was generating those looks. Brumbaugh was decisive in his movements and getting to his spots. It seemed like every time he touched the ball, he was getting down into the paint and collapsing the defense to either finish with some soft banked-shots or to kick it out to an open spot-up shooter in the corner. The offense simply seemed to flow much smoother with Brumbaugh at the helm. Everything felt more fluid and natural. Even the misses Brumbaugh generated for the Hoya offense — and there were plenty of misses (Georgetown was a putrid 2-13 from deep in the first half) — were great looks that just didn’t fall. 

With Cooley starting Brumbaugh in the second half in place of senior guard Wayne Bristol Jr., the looks he was generating began to drop. After only putting up 19 points in the first half, the Hoyas exceeded that total less than nine minutes into the second. Brumbaugh was clinical getting into the teeth of the defense and either finishing or finding open shooters; he loves his one-handed sling passes to a spot-up shooter in the corner, something he did at least four or five times Friday night. Villanova began to pull away towards the end of the game, but Brumbaugh provided a spark for Georgetown and it’s a spark that looks replicable. 

2 – Should Cooley move away from Jayden Epps?

On the opposite side of the spectrum from Brumbaugh was sophomore guard Jayden Epps who finished the game shooting an ugly 3-12 from the field (1-7 from three) for only 9 points. Epps entered the game averaging 17.6 points per game — good for fourth in the Big East — but is shooting a measly 38.2 percent from the field, a number that only got worse after Friday night. 

It’s abundantly clear that Epps is a very talented player who has a knack for scoring, but too many of his shot attempts come on end-of-the-shot-clock isolations where he tries to size up his defender with a flurry of dribble moves, only to end with an overly difficult stepback that even Steph Curry or Kevin Durant would have trouble making consistently. He also most certainly has passing chops (averaging 4.3 assists per game), but too often gets tunnel vision that plays into his hero-ball tendencies. 

Georgetown definitely needs shotmakers — and needs Epps to hunt for his shot to a certain extent — but as anyone who’s watched any Wizards basketball in the year of our lord 2024, there is absolutely a limit to how good a team can be when players hijack the offense every other possession. With his shooting struggles this year and the emergence of Brumbaugh, it begs the question of whether Cooley should reign in his leading scorer just a tad in the hopes of a more efficient offense. 

3 – How do the Hoyas fix their defensive rotations?

Uncharacteristically bad shotmaking from Villanova masked the issue for 30 minutes of the game, but Georgetown’s poor rotations reared their ugly head as the Wildcats finished the shooting a blistering 59.3 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from deep in the second half. Too often a Georgetown defender would help on-the-ball from the strongside, leaving three point shooters like sophomore guard Brendan Hausen (4-10 from three today, 41.8 3P% for the season) wide open. Too often Villanova’s passing left the Hoya defense scrambling to rotate, leading to mismatches inside and easy lay-ups and dunks. Too often Georgetown defenders did not pick up a man in transition, resulting in a 12-1 Wildcat advantage in points off turnovers. 

“I thought we played harder today… I don’t think we were attentive to detail enough on small things, and think that has hurt us all year: our attentiveness, our wherewithal,” said  Cooley post-game. 

There doesn’t seem to be an immediate fix. For one, it appears that the Hoyas are trying. The effort is there, it just seems like the Hoyas have more mental lapses than their competition night-in and night-out. In fairness, Cooley’s team is very young. Young teams almost never have the poise of veteran teams; there is no replicating experience. So Georgetown will likely continue to experience growing pains for the foreseeable future, but remain steadfast, Hoya faithful — the pay-off will come eventually. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the fix is coming next week.


Other Notes

  • Villanova went up 39-27 roughly five minutes into the second half — to that point their largest lead of the game — and seemed to be a bucket away from sealing it right then and there, but the Hoyas scratched and clawed back, going on a 14-6 run in just over three minutes to make a four-point game. After junior guard Dontrez Styles hit a three to cut it to 45-41, Capital One exploded, with the arena being about as loud as it’s been in years. That was as close as the Hoyas got the rest of the way.
  • New Washington Commanders general manager Adam Peters and head coach Dan Quinn were present at the game and were greeted by a warm round of applause by the Hoya faithful. Quinn looked like a man who’s enjoying life in his fifties. He rocked a backwards ball cap, a G-Shock watch, and a big smile the whole game.
  • Supreme Cook continued his underrated season with eight points on 4-7 shooting to go along with 11 boards, six of which were offensive. Entering the game, he was averaging 8.2 rebounds a game, good for third in the Big East.
  • Georgetown has now lost six straight games to Villanova with their last win on March 11, 2021 in their miracle run to eventually win the Big East Tournament. 


The Hoyas are back at Capital One Arena on Wednesday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. to face the St. John’s Red Storm (14-11, 6-8 BIG EAST) as they continue conference play. For continued coverage of all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on X, formerly Twitter.

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