Hoyas fade at the fin­ish in fall­ing to No. 2 Wild­cats

The Washington Post Sunday - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - BY PA­TRICK STEVENS sports@wash­post.com

Josh Hart’s fi­nal col­lege trip back to Wash­ing­ton couldn’t have gone much worse for Ge­orge­town.

The Vil­lanova guard hit backto-back three-point­ers with less than eight min­utes left to turn what was a rel­a­tively close game into an 81-55 rout of the Hoyas.

“Josh hits those two threes, and we didn’t bounce back,” Ge­orge­town Coach John Thomp­son III said. “We didn’t bounce back.”

That’s putting it mildly. Vil­lanova scored on 15 of 17 pos­ses­sions be­fore tak­ing a shot-clock vi­o­la­tion with less than a sec­ond re­main­ing, clos­ing out the drub­bing with a 32-12 run.

Rod­ney Pryor scored 21 points for the Hoyas (14-17, 5-13 Big East), who have lost five in a row and will play in the open­ing game of the con­fer­ence tournament for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year.

Bar­ring an un­ex­pected run to a Big East tournament ti­tle, in which Ge­orge­town would have to face Vil­lanova again in the quar­ter­fi­nals if it up­ends St. John’s on Wed­nes­day, the Hoyas will be left with a los­ing record in back-to­back sea­sons for the first time since 1971-73.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, those strug­gles have pro­duced a restive Ge­orge­town fan base, though its boos late in the game were par­tially drowned out by ec­static Vil­lanova fans en­joy­ing an­other tri­umph.

A team spokesman in­ter­rupted a ques­tion to Thomp­son, the 13th-year Hoyas coach, about the pro­gram’s fu­ture, in­sist­ing on only game-re­lated ques­tions.

Hart, a Sil­ver Spring na­tive who played high school ball at Sid­well Friends, had 21 points and Kris Jenk­ins added 19 for the sec­ond-ranked Wild­cats (28-3, 15-3), the four-time Big East reg­u­lar sea­son cham­pi­ons.

There were grim num­bers all around for Ge­orge­town as it wrapped up its home sched­ule be­fore a sea­son-high crowd of 15,143. The Hoyas were left with their worst con­fer­ence record since 2003-04, their fi­nal year un­der Craig Esh­er­ick. They’ve lost five in a row to Vil­lanova for the first time since 1948-50, and this was their most lop­sided loss to the Wild­cats since Feb. 11, 1950.

The big­gest in­dict­ment, though, was Ge­orge­town’s dis­tinct lack of in­ter­est in mus­ter­ing any at­tempt to slow down Vil­lanova in the game’s fi­nal 10 min­utes.

“Our de­fense dis­ap­peared,” Thomp­son said.

Ge­orge­town trailed just 54-45 when it hoisted ill-ad­vised jumpers on back-to-back pos­ses­sions. Vil­lanova re­sponded both times by find­ing Hart in rhythm on the perime­ter to bump the lead to 15.

Hart did so when Vil­lanova, which en­joyed some rare depth af­ter get­ting for­ward Dar­ryl Reynolds (rib) back from a fiveg­ame ab­sence, was rest­ing Jenk­ins and guard Jalen Brun­son.

“Josh rec­og­nizes that’s his time to come off and look for threes. It was just re­ally smart on his part,” Vil­lanova Coach Jay Wright said. “That was big be­cause we had got­ten some stops but were hav­ing a tough time scor­ing.”

It was a for­get­table day for most of Ge­orge­town’s of­fense. Ju­nior L.J. Peak scored a sea­son­low two points and logged only 12 min­utes be­fore foul­ing out with 6:32 re­main­ing.

No one else be­sides Pryor emerged as a steady op­tion on of­fense, with Jessie Go­van fin­ish­ing sec­ond on the team with seven points.

But even though the Hoyas were within reach of the lead early in the sec­ond half and at one point closed the deficit to four points, their self-in­flicted mis­cues were costly. Ge­orge­town com­mit­ted 20 turnovers, the fourth time it did so this sea­son, and had a give­away on 12 of its 34 pos­ses­sions in the first half.

“It killed us,” Thomp­son said. “Against an of­fen­sive team like that, you can’t have just the care­less turnovers. I don’t want to sit here and an­nounce that was the key to the game, but it re­ally hurt us.”

Just like last year, when Ge­orge­town closed out the reg­u­lar sea­son in a tail­spin punc­tu­ated by an ugly loss to Vil­lanova, there is only one path to ex­tend­ing its sea­son as it heads to Madi­son Square Gar­den.

“It’s a new slate, and we have to win four,” Pryor said.


Rod­ney Pryor scored 21 points for Ge­orge­town, which dropped to 14-17 and could end up with a los­ing record for the sec­ond straight sea­son.

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