Men’s Basketball | GU Drops to Third Place in Loss to Villanova

It was too little, too late for the Georgetown men’s basketball team (11-7, 4-2 Big East) when it fell to No. 6 Villanova (16-2, 6-0 Big East) after a defensive struggle by a final score of 55-50. Both teams struggled to score consistently throughout the game, with the Hoyas shooting 32.7% from the field and the Wildcats shooting only slightly better with a 38.3% mark from the field.

An 11-3 run by Villanova in the beginning of the second half helped it pull away from Georgetown for good and ultimately helped keep its undefeated conference record intact.

Villanova’s efforts on defense also helped to keep its lead locked down.

“They’re a good defensive team; they make every possession hard,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “They do a very good job of helping each other.”

Villanova senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono and junior guard Josh Hart led their team in scoring with 15 points apiece, with Hart also grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. Arcidiacono, Hart and junior forward Kris Jenkins accounted for 40 of the Wildcats’ 55 points.

The game got off to a poor start for the Hoyas when Hart intercepted a pass from senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who had six turnovers on the day.

“They were being ultra-aggressive, like they always are,” Smith-Rivera said of the Wildcats’ defense.

Smith-Rivera entered Saturday’s contest as an offensive threat to the Wildcats, as he was coming off a 33-point performance in Georgetown’s last game against St. John’s (7-12, 0-6 Big East); Arcidiacono noted that it was a team effort in limiting Smith-Rivera’s effectiveness.

“We just try to switch it up on him, change the length and the size. … I think as a team we defended him well,” Arcidiacono said.

The Hoyas managed to hang around for much of the first half behind the play of sophomore forward Isaac Copeland, who broke out of his recent stretch of low-scoring play by recording 11 points and notching six rebounds. Midway through the first half, the Hoyas trailed by only one point after a layup from Copeland, but then a three-pointer from Villanova freshman forward Mikal Bridges and a Hart jumper pushed the Wildcat lead back to seven points with 4:36 remaining.

At the end of the half, with the shot clock off and the Hoyas having a last scoring opportunity and possession of the ball, Smith-Rivera was double teamed and turned the ball over with five seconds on the clock. Arcidiacono got the loose ball, but was blocked from behind by Smith-Rivera. At halftime, Georgetown trailed Villanova 26-22.

The Wildcats took control of the game in the second half, with the Hoyas scoring just three points in the first six minutes.

“Early in the second half, for a large chunk of the second half it was hard to get a rhythm,” Thompson said. “We got some point-blank shots in the paint that didn’t go in. We got some open looks for guys we want open looks for and they didn’t go in.”

A Jenkins three-pointer from the corner extended Villanova’s lead to 11 with 11:47 remaining. Georgetown would remain quiet until, with about eight minutes left in the game, a couple of free throws from freshman center Jessie Govan cut the lead to single digits.

“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,” Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said.

The two teams would go back and forth for the remainder of the game, but the Hoyas were not able to get over the hump and take the lead back. After a three from junior forward Reggie Cameron put the score at 49-46 with 1:04 remaining, Arcidiacono iced the game for the Wildcats with a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach for Georgetown.

With that loss, Georgetown dropped to a tie for third in the Big East with Creighton, while Villanova maintains its spot at the top of the conference with a perfect 6-0 Big East record.

Georgetown will now travel to Cincinnati on Tuesday to face No. 7 Xavier (16-1, 4-1 Big East). The Musketeers defeated the Marquette Golden Eagles (12-6, 2-4 Big East) 74-66 on Saturday and went on a 21-0 run to come from behind to secure the win.

Tipoff against Xavier is scheduled for 8:30 p.m., and the game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

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