Your Georgetown Hoyas had a chance to upset the #7-ranked Villanova Wildcats, but came up short on their home floor on Saturday. Some things seemed to go right, as the Hoyas showed marked improvement on defense and were able to constrain Villanova to 38% shooting from the field and 16% from behind the arc. On the offensive end, however, the Hoyas put in a worse performance, shooting just 32% and somehow making seven three-pointers but only ten baskets from inside the arc. It was a mixed bag of a performance overall for the Hoyas, but it was just not enough to beat arguably the Big East's best team.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way for the Hoyas with 15 points, but also ended with six of the Hoyas' 13 team turnovers. The Hoyas failed to harness their advantage in height and length, as the team's two centers, Jessie Govan and Bradley Hayes, combined for 7 points on 1-10 shooting from the field. Isaac Copeland had a bit of a recovery game, scoring 11 points on 4-8 shooting and grabbing 6 rebounds after shooting just 19% from the field in his last four games.
In the first half of the game, the Hoyas hung in with the Wildcats by preventing them from taking too many shots and generating offense when they really needed it, but Villanova was able to make many contested shots. After a quick run that included a DSR 3 and a Copeland bucket, the Hoyas cut the lead to four and were able to keep it that way into the half. The deficit could have been wider after Georgetown turned the ball over on their last possession of the half, but DSR stuffed Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono's three point attempt at the buzzer with an impressive block from behind.
In the second twenty minutes, the Hoyas defense slipped, including on a notable Kris Jenkins three that put Villanova up by double digits shortly before the under-12 timeout. Jenkins was incredibly open on the attempt and had seemingly forever to gain his footing. Another crushing moment came when Arcidiacono found a surging Mikal Bridges for an alley-oop shortly thereafter.
The Hoyas kept themselves in the game, however, with some timely offense, as LJ Peak was able to provide and "and-1" and a layup on the next possession to cut Nova's lead to four with under six minutes to go. The crowd was going wild each time the Hoyas were able to trim the lead, most emphatically after both DSR and Reggie Cameron hit three-pointers to cut the lead to three points with 45 seconds left. After a missed shot by Villanova, Jessie Govan was able to commandeer the rebound, but then stepped out of bounds. The Wildcats were then able to hold off the Hoyas and maintain their place atop the Big East.
Ultimately, Govan's misstep may have cost the Hoyas the game, but there were so many other opportunities to capitalize on an imperfect Villanova team. Particularly in the second half, the Hoyas failed to force the ball into the paint as Villanova's 2-3 zone forced a series of outside shots. Unfortunately, the Hoyas were unable to find their touch from outside the paint, so the team lost out on the chance for an upset.
The crowd frequently expressed their displeasure at the officiating, as from the biased point of view of the student section, it appeared that many fouls on Georgetown players went uncalled and Villanova drew many "ticky-tack" fouls. Lately I've tried to move beyond blaming referees, and I'm still stopping short of giving them credit for putting Villanova over the top, but it seemed as though there were more questionable calls than usual.
Speaking of the crowd, it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of it today. Despite the fact that students arrived to the game a bit later than they did for Syracuse, the line to enter the Verizon Center still stretched way down 7th St by the time the doors opened. I was able to procure my usual seat and even brought in a sign that I made while waiting outside (one side mocked Villanova's "V for victory" cheer with "V for Vasectomy," while the other side channeled rapper and social media star DJ Khaled in saying "Georgetown: major key.")
Shortly thereafter, I had the pleasure in partaking in an unofficial Casual commenter gathering at the Hoya Hoop Club's luncheon in the arena's Acela Club. I met up with commenters BenHoya, GT8MD, and Casual Hoya himself, while also finally meeting Peggy's Special, her husband Mr. Peggy, and NYHoya. It was quite fun to be able to meet and converse with so many people who I already felt like I knew after so many online interactions.
After returning downstairs, I took up my usual post and lifted up my sign. My roommate pointed out to me that there were people cracking up at the "V for Vasectomy" sign. I had been looking the other direction, as I was observing the tradition of turning one's back to the court as the visiting team is introduced. Shortly after that, it became difficult to hear him as the crowd reached very high volumes. Even thinking became difficult at times as the crowd made themselves heard early. After about five minutes of playing time, an arena official came up to me and told me he would have to take my sign. I shrugged and hesitantly gave it to him, but even other arena staff seemed to be wondering what the big deal had been. I could see how it would be considered a bit too risqué, but I'm not exactly sure either. Perhaps there is an arena-wide "no medical procedure references allowed" rule now. So, my recommendation would be to tread lightly if you plan on making a sign that says "B for brain surgery" in advance of Georgetown's game vs. Butler.
The crowd hit lulls at times, but when the Hoyas seemed to need a push from the crowd, the faithful were right there to pump up the volume. After big baskets and palpable momentum shifts, the crowd may have even passed the pain threshold. I certainly needed an Advil after the game was over. Fans also became quite angry after what seemed like consistently questionable foul calls. Expletives related to bull dung and horse manure flew in the direction of officials after some of the more egregious cases.
There were still happy moments. Each three pointer in the second half received a roar of appreciation from the crowd as the Hoyas willed themselves back into the game. I was proud that the Heckler's Guide came in handy during a key pair of late-game free throws by Villanova's Jalen Brunson. Before the shot, when the crowd was still quiet, I shouted "Why did you wear basketball sneakers to your prom? Inquiring minds want to know." He promptly missed the first free throw. I'm also fairly sure my prom date would have killed me had I worn basketball sneakers. The "Copy That Dance" camera that appears during a timeout each game honored David Bowie by playing his and Mick Jagger's version of "Dancing in the Street." All in all, this game symbolized the way this season has gone so far. It was fun, but inevitably ended in disappointment. We were so close to victory, yet so far.
The Hoyas fell to 11-7 and the schedule shows no signs of letting up. I don't know about you, but as of right now, I'm focusing less on worrying about our postseason prospects and enjoying the fun of it all. Today proved that it's not all bad in a loss. I know that today reminded me how much fun a game is, win or lose, when a large number of fans show up and get loud. Here's hoping that can somehow sustain itself as the season goes on.
Hoya Saxa! Let's beat Xavier and UConn!