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