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Georgetown Fights Gamely at Villanova, Loses 77-65 on Late Wildcat Surge

Jessie and the Terrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Day Sink Hoyas Late

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Villanova Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Your Georgetown Fighting Hoyas had a nightmare ending to an otherwise impressive showing Saturday at Villanova. After 33 minutes of nip-and-tuck basketball, the Wildcats rattled off a 14-2 stretch run to break open a tie game, eventually prevailing 77-65. The Hoyas hung in until crunch time despite getting nothing from Jessie Govan and barely more from Mac McClung, their two leading scorers. But Georgetown couldn’t manufacture points in the game’s most critical sequence, and Villanova put the game away.

Today’s loss was in some ways heartening. The final score doesn’t do justice to the fact that this was a one-possession game for most of the 40 minutes, and that Georgetown kept even with Villanova despite big days from Wildcats Eric Paschall and Colin Gillespie. The Hoyas proved they could hang with the conference’s best, even without the offensive contributions of their two biggest guns. Nine games into Big East play, Georgetown has been in every game, as frustrating as that has made the losses. But in today’s waning minutes, Georgetown proved just as emphatically it needs Govan and Mac to pull off a tough win like this.

For much of the game, the Hoyas were neck-and-neck with Villanova thanks to a ensemble performance. James Akinjo led the Hoyas with 19 points and 4 assists, a solid performance after his heroics Thursday night against Xavier. Trey Mourning had an up-and-down game in Govan’s stead but finished inside well enough to accumulate 12 points and 6 rebounds. Jamorko Pickett scored Georgetown’s first 4 points and hit a pair of 3s to notch just his second double-digit scoring effort since the season’s opening week. And Greg Malinowski bounce back, to some degree, to contribute solid minutes on both ends and a final stat line of 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. With contributions from each of these Hoyas, and a bit of duct tape, they stayed afloat.

For his part, Govan could barely stay on the court thanks to poor defensive play that led to costly fouls. With eight minutes to play in the first half and already carrying two fouls, Jessie committed a touch foul on a high Villanova screen, putting himself in harm’s way 25-plus from the basket. Meanwhile, his teammates did everything but shake the sofa cushions for points and possessions, eventually carrying an improbable one-point lead into the half. Govan returned after the break before getting whistled for similar contact, also on a Wildcat pick. That foul, his fourth, sent him to the bench yet again.

Govan’s teammates again stepped up. McClung, who otherwise missed all nine of his attempts, connected on consecutive drives to the hoop when the Wildcats appeared to be pulling away. Akinjo hit a three, and then found Mourning for a lay-in. Malinowski also hit a cutting Trey for two, then pinged LeBlanc for an elbow jumper. Little by little, Georgetown stayed in the game, despite shooting just 34 percent from the field from the day.

With under 8 minutes remaining, Govan returned to the game, which Akinjo promptly tied with another three. After a stop, the Hoyas, having fought and scrapped without their offensive rock, had a chance to take the lead. They went to Govan, one of the most productive and reliable players in the country this season. But on a day when literally nothing fell for him, the senior big man missed his patented baby-hook and then, off a Josh LeBlanc offensive rebound, bricked a wing three-pointer. After a Phil Booth bucket put Villanova up two, Govan again had a chance to get on the board, springing free for a top-of-the-key three-pointer that would have salvaged an aimless possession and put the Hoyas ahead. That, too, went astray, before Booth hit a three to extend the Wildcat lead. One minute later, Govan fouled out, having missed all nine of his shots on the day, and Georgetown couldn’t recover.

This was a tough loss, but the Hoyas also only have a couple of days to lick their wounds before a big trip to a Providence to take on a revenge-minded Friar squad Wednesday night. After today, Georgetown also will have plenty to prove when it returns to action. Here’s hoping the Hoyas do so. Hoya Saxa.