With 4.6 seconds left in Georgetown’s loss to Villanova last night, Wildcat Gary Buchanan stepped to the free throw line with his team clinging to a two-point lead having sunk an NCAA Division I-record 73 consecutive free throws.

Buchanan bricked his first shot from the line, giving the Hoyas a breath of life and an unexpected opportunity to send the game to overtime. It seemed as though it was meant to be.

Junior point guard Kevin Braswell took the ball up the court, had a look at the basket from five feet behind the three-point line as time expired, but the shot didn’t fall. Game over. That makes consecutive losses, and this one hurts more than any other this season.

The loss is Georgetown’s fifth in its last eight games and drops the Hoyas’ record against teams in the RPI top 50 to 1-4, and Georgetown’s only victory in these games came against Minnesota over Thanksgiving break. That was more than two months ago.

The loss drops Georgetown’s record in games decided by seven points or less to 1-4. The only victory was against Louisville on Dec. 4, which saw the Hoyas blow a 23-point lead, although the game was never really in jeopardy.

The loss is Georgetown’s third straight at the hands of Villanova, and all three have come by a three-point margin. Two seasons ago, it was a double-overtime heartbreaker where the Wildcats hit two three pointers in the final two seconds. Last year, the Hoyas clawed back from a 15-point second half deficit to build a five-point lead with three minutes left only to see Villanova go on a victory-clinching run in the final minute.

It was more of the same out on the court last night, as the Hoyas reminded me a lot of the team of the past two seasons. Horrific shooting from the field (27 percent), way too many outside shots (32 three pointers) and the other team getting it done in the closing minutes while Georgetown fades.

If it were a Hollywood script, it would be thrown out, because it has been used far too many times. Two years ago, Georgetown lost eight games by seven points or less. Six losses within that margin last year.

The last thing the Hoyas need to do is regress into the pit that the program has fought to dig itself out of. Georgetown has hit the skids over the last three weeks, losing five of eight games and falling to the middle of the pack of the Big East after a scorching start.

What cannot be forgotten, however, is that March is the month that matters. Teams win conference tournaments in March, teams make the NCAAs in March and a champion is crowned in March.

Nonetheless, teams also get bumped off the NCAA tournament bubble in March and make the disappointing trek through the NIT, something Georgetown has known all too well in recent years.

Georgetown has to find that swagger it had when it traveled to Seton Hall and rode the Pirates right out of the building. Back then, just one month ago, the Hoyas had an unmatched defensive intensity, a cohesive offensive flow, a 16-game winning streak and a No. 9 ranking.

The Hoyas who took the floor at MCI last night and visited Providence on Saturday are the same squad! Same players, same coaches, same talent. The only things missing are confidence, execution and victories.

There is still time remaining to rediscover lost confidence and improve execution which should lead back to the win column, but there is no doubt time is running out. Georgetown has five games remaining before the Big East Tournament, and there are plenty of things to sort out before New York.

The loss at Providence exposed a number of deficiencies that Georgetown must address, while the Hoyas displayed a flawed offense against the Wildcats last night. Put those two together, and you’ve got a team that struggles to defeat Bethune-Cookman.

For starters, the frontcourt has been an enigma, with the exception of freshman power forward Mike Sweetney. `Sweets’ has proven himself to be Georgetown’s most consistent offensive weapon and is competing for Big East Rookie of the Year in what is the year of the freshman in the Big East. Sophomore Wesley Wilson is explosive, but he still lacks the consistency and touch from the line to be an anchor in the middle.

A pair of seniors, center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje and forward Lee Scruggs, have failed to dominate as was expected by many. Boumtje-Boumtje continues to struggle in the middle, failing to assert himself as the force many believe he can be (including myself). Scruggs, an amazing offensive threat who is virtually impossible for opponents to counter, has seen a lot of bench time lately and then failed to capitalize against Villanova, shooting an anemic 2 of 15 from the field.

As much as Georgetown is renowned for its heralded line of centers, from Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) onward, the backcourt is where this Hoya team lives and dies. Sophomore shooting guard Demetrius Hunter has added an improved handle and outside shot to round out a dangerous repertoire that has boosted his status as a legitimate outside threat, but he is still not the go-to guy.

But it all starts with the point, Kevin Braswell, and while he continues to be Georgetown’s floor general, his shot has abandoned him in recent games. After tearing it up in victories over Pittsburgh and West Virginia, Braswell has shot a combined 7 of 24 from the field in the Hoyas’ two most recent losses. ore than anyone else, as goes Braswell, so go the Hoyas.

Georgetown is on the brink right now, and the season still has the potential to swing in the direction of great success or utter disappointment. One month from now, NCAA bids come out and it will be judgement day for Georgetown.

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