A late rally was not enough to overcome a crippling offensive drought Saturday as Georgetown lost 55-50 to #6 Villanova. The Hoyas scored just 1 point in the first 6 minutes after the half, letting a narrow Wildcat lead balloon to double digits. That deficit proved too great for Georgetown’s punchless offense, which managed to shoot just 33 percent from the field and a head-shaking 30 percent from two-point range. The inert attack spoiled what a good effort by Georgetown's defense, which used new rotations and wrinkles to slow down one of the nation's best offenses. With the defeat, Georgetown falls to 4-2 in Big East play as it enters a brutal stretch of its schedule.
Georgetown struggled to score all day long, managing just 50 points across 60 possessions. On that measure, the offensive performance was the Hoyas' worst of the season. Some of this can be chalked up to Villanova's defense, which rates among the best nationally. The Wildcats kept Georgetown off balance defensively by switching between man to zone schemes. They denied the Hoyas points in the paint by walling off driving lanes and pestering Georgetown big men Bradley Hayes and Jessie Govan, who combined to make just 1 of 10 field goals on the day.
But it's too simplistic to simply blame the posts for not shooting better. In addition to a stiff Villanova defense, Saturday's anemic offense also can be chalked up to Georgetown's lack of playmaking offensive threats, a season-long deficit. Those struggles can, and should, just as easily be chalked up to Georgetown's struggle to penetrate into the lane to create easy inside shots. The Hoyas finally were able to get consecutive buckets in the second half when LJ Peak was able to get into the lane after receiving the ball with a head of steam. But even Peak couldn't create that offense for himself, instead needing to come off the ball to get going into the lane. And after Peak and Smith-Rivera, there just aren't any reliable playmakers on the roster.
Georgetown's defense generally was fine. As Villanova did, Georgetown switched between defenses, extending a three-quarter court press after (the few) made baskets and shifting between man, two-three, and even a 1-3-1 look in the half court. The Hoyas held Villanova to just 38 percent from the field and well under 1 point per possession.
Despite generally playing well defensively, the Hoyas' seasons-long fouling crisis continues unabated. Georgetown was whistled for 23 fouls against Villanova (3 of which were to extend the game's final minute), a remarkable number for a relatively slow game. The Hoyas consistently get whistled for the most maddening fouls, like reaching in when there's little chance of getting a steal or failing to slide their feet to beat an offensive player to a spot. Those fouls make late comebacks difficult, both by gifting opponents free throws in the waning minutes and also by limiting opportunities for the Hoyas to start their offense on the run.
But for the most part, it was Georgetown's utter lack of offense that kept Villanova out of reach. The Hoyas trailed for all but six minutes today, and didn't even have a shot to tie the game for the last 32 minutes. Their last, best chance to catch up slipped away when, with 37 seconds remaining and Georgetown trailing by just 3, Govan fumbled a defensive rebound out of bounds.
This loss wasn't so disastrous as the non-conference home trio, but those earlier defeats shrunk Georgetown's margin for error to the point where every game now feels like a must-win. It also was frustrating, because even a functional offense would have been enough to squeeze out a victory today. Villanova isn't likely to make just 3 of 18 three-pointers when these two teams play in Philly, and that return game could get out of hand fast, as it has tended to do in recent years. But Georgetown needs a win, probably multiple wins, over the Big East's upper tier to retain even an outside chance at a postseason bid. Now, the Hoyas face long-odds trips to Xavier and UConn with an ever-greater need to come home with at least one victory.