Image Contributor
Junior forward Jaleesa Butler

Sitting precariously on the bubble entering the weekend, Georgetown had two opportunities to bolster its NCAA tournament chances against Villanova and Seton Hall. Unfortunately for the Hoyas (17-12, 8-8 Big East), they came up short in both opportunities.

Villanova (18-12, 10-6) took advantage of a 16-1 second-half run to spoil the Hoyas’ Senior Day on Saturday and power past Georgetown 58-53. A Monday trip to Seton Hall (16-13, 4-12) proved to be no more successful, as Georgetown could not overcome a 36-23 halftime deficit and fell 64-54.

“We didn’t play good defense; there were way too many defensive lapses and easy layups,” Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said following Saturday’s loss. “There was a stretch where we just didn’t play defense.”

A trey from senior guard Karee Houlette gave Georgetown an early 10-3 lead over Villanova, but the Wildcats soon got their pick-and-roll offense going to take an 18-17 lead. With three starters and two bench players standing at six feet or taller, the much bigger Wildcats took advantage of the Hoyas’ tendency to switch on screens to create mismatches in the paint.

Freshman guard Rubylee Wright, a 5-foot-3 guard, got stuck inside against 6-foot-3 sophomore center Heather Scanlon on her first two defensive possessions, one resulting in an easy layup and the other time a missed open layup. Despite a strong performance in Georgetown’s previous game, in which she shot 5-of-5 for 13 points in a win over Syracuse, Wright’s lack of size limited her to two minutes against Villanova.

Georgetown bounced back to take a 26-22 lead into halftime, despite Scanlon’s 11 first-half points off the bench. The sophomore center had been averaging only 5.0 points per game entering the contest but ended the game with a career-high 19 points.

The Hoyas extended that lead to 40-31 in the first eight minutes of the second half, but then Villanova’s pick-and-roll offense began to yield results once again. The Wildcats continually went to the pick-and-roll and at times in the second half, the result was a wide-open lane to the hoop. Villanova’s decisive 16-1 stretch included four layups – one on a fast-break and the other three in half-court sets on uncontested baskets with a Wildcat running free down the lane.

“I thought we had lost our composure, and I told them in the huddle that we needed to regain our composure and put some pressure on [the Hoyas],” Villanova Head Coach Harry Perretta said. “Before you win the game, you’ve got to be in it, and that’s what we did [during the 16-1 run].”

Once Georgetown fell behind, Villanova did what it does best: play defense and make free throws. The Wildcats are 10th in the country in defense, surrendering just 53.1 points per game, and they rank eighth in the nation in free-throw shooting at 77.6 percent. Georgetown finished the game with only 53 points, and the Wildcats made 9-of-10 free throws in the final minute to close out the game.

Georgetown shot only 33.3 percent from the floor for the game, including a 0-for-6 showing from three-point range in the second half. Villanova struggled from the field in the first half, shooting 36 percent, but the plethora of easy layups, which boosted the Wildcats to 60 percent shooting in the second half, proved to be enough for Villanova to seal the victory.

Junior forward Jaleesa Butler led the Hoyas with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting and eight rebounds. Houlette was the only other Hoya to reach double figures, contributing 12 points on 5-for-11 from the field. Freshman forward Latia Magee added nine points coming off the bench. Junior guard Shanice Fuller shot only 2-of-11 for six points before fouling out in the final minute.

Georgetown looked to rebound on Monday against the Big East bottom-dwelling Seton Hall Pirates, but the offensive struggles continued.

“The ball just didn’t go in for us tonight but what really hurt us is that we didn’t give ourselves chances to score with so many turnovers,” Williams-Flournoy said in an e-mail Monday night. “We’d get a stop and then give it right back to them.”

Georgetown stumbled out of the gate, making only two of its first 12 attempts as the Hoyas fell behind 17-4, and the Pirates maintained that double-digit lead to 22-9. A 13-7 Hoya run capped by a three-pointer from Magee brought the Hoyas back within seven but they could not maintain the momentum. Seton Hall’s sophomore guard Ebonie Williams finished off a 15-point first half with a jumper in the final seconds, giving the Pirates a 36-23 lead at the break.

Georgetown rediscovered its offensive touch early in the second half, scoring 14 points in the first seven minutes to narrow the deficit to 42-39.

Trailing 49-41 with 10 minutes remaining, the Hoyas reverted to the careless play that had cost them several games earlier this season. During a seven-possession stretch in which Georgetown held Seton Hall to only two free throws, the Hoyas killed their comeback hopes by turning the ball over five times and failing to put a single point on the board.

By the time Houlette made a jumper to end the Georgetown scoreless stretch at 8:03, the Hoyas had only 3:47 to close a 53-43 deficit. Georgetown failed to get any closer than seven points, as Seton Hall drained nine of its final 10 free throws to hold on for the 64-54 victory.

Fuller bounced back from the Villanova loss by scoring a team-high 14 points, including 6-of-6 shooting from the charity stripe. She fouled out once again in the final minutes, as did sophomore guard Monica McNutt. Magee and Butler added 10 points apiece.

With the regular season finished, Georgetown’s attention now turns to righting the ship for the Big East tournament.

“We just need to refocus and do what we do,” Williams-Flournoy said in an e-mail. “I don’t think we are a team that turns the ball over like that but [Monday] we did. We need to correct our mistakes and focus on our game.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.