Georgetown lost its fifth straight game Monday night, dropping a winnable game against visiting Villanova, 65-60. The Hoyas frittered away their chances at an upset and continued their slide in a difficult season.
Barely 48 hours after a difficult loss at Creighton, Georgetown came out firing against its rival 'Nova, burying a pair of early triples to run out to an 8-0 lead. While Villanova quickly punched back, retaking the lead on 9 straight points, the Hoyas cobbled together just enough offense to stay within arm's reach of the Wildcats. Seven Georgetown players scored before intermission, a refreshing break from the recent formula of Markel Starks, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, and whatever change JT3 can find in his couch cushions.
The scoring depth can in part be chalked up to the fact that nine Georgetown players saw first-half action. That cast surprisingly did not include Moses Ayegba, who served a one-game suspension for his apparent failure to make a payment related to his 2010 suspension for accepting a plane ticket to the U.S. from someone outside his family. However, the rotation happily did include Jabril Trawick, who returned from a broken jaw to limited action. Even small doses of Trawick combined with the increasingly reliable Reggie Cameron and Aaron Bowen made Georgetown seem suddenly deep on the perimeter.
That depth did not necessary translate to better ball handling against the ball-hawking Villanova defense. The Wildcats' guard-heavy lineups effectively pressed the Hoyas into 18 turnovers, many of which resulted from aimless cross-court passes or ill-advised Georgetown forays along the sideline and into the corner, where the Wildcats were happy to trap the Hoyas.
Still, there were some encouraging signs on offense. When the Hoyas weren't giving the ball away, they shot a respectable 44 percent. Cameron scored his 12 points in a variety of ways, burying two three-pointers while also creating off the bounce and getting a couple of opportunistic hoops near the basket. Bowen, Mikael Hopkins, and Nate Lubick all got baskets here and there, providing just enough scoring that Markel Starks didn't collapse in a heap on the court.
Even so, Starks remained too much the hub of the Hoya offense, netting game highs in points (20, the last of which ensured a back-door cover), assists (6), and turnovers (5). Already overworked, the senior had his burden increased on Monday because Smith-Rivera continued to suffer from a rib injury sustained during the Creighton game. DSR shot just 2 of 11 from the field, missing a couple of particularly open jumpers that would have kept Georgetown on pace in the second half.
Even without Smith-Rivera's usual point totals, Georgetown found itself in the game late. Unfortunately, as has been the story too often this season, the Hoyas could not muster any offense with the game on the line. Too few Georgetown players are threats to create offense, and too many Hoyas can simply be ignored by defenses keying in on Starks. The last gasp came when Georgetown had the ball, trailing by just three points in the final minute. After a timeout, the Hoyas began to execute what appeared to be a well-constructed play to free Cameron for a corner three-pointer. But Starks bowled over a Villanova defender and was called for the charge. Georgetown was reduced to fouling, and the game slipped away.
The Hoyas' five-game losing streak is a low point matched only twice in the JT3 era, in his first season and again in the disastrous 2009 season. The latter campaign was also the last time Georgetown dropped three straight home games, as the Hoyas have now done. With an upcoming road trip to New York to face #7 Michigan State, Georgetown's best chance out of the hole may not come until Monday, at DePaul.