After some auspicious early-season road trips, Georgetown continued to struggle away from home in conference, losing 80-66 on Saturday at Villanova. Against the Wildcats, the Hoyas’ defense once again proved leaky, as Georgetown defenders time and again lost track of Villanova shooters, who connected on 15 three-pointers, many uncontested. Wildcat wing Saddiq Bey led the charge, pouring in a career-high 33 points on the strength of 8 triples, in the process becoming the latest D.C. product to migrate to Philly only to torture his hometown team.
For their part, the Hoyas couldn’t find a consistent source of perimeter offense, as their four guards shot just 11 of 31 for the day and the team as a whole canned just 5 triples on 16 attempts. The combination of defensive miscues and long-range bricks on offense was too much, as Georgetown fell to 1-3 in Big East play.
Georgetown always faces a thin margin of error going to Villanova, from which the Hoyas haven’t returned victorious since Thundersnow and JGD were household names. Even against long odds, this year seemed to present a glimmer of hope. When full strength (with their reduced core, anyway), these Hoyas had won 7 of 8, and the Wildcats haven’t played to their conference-dominating standard so far this season.
That hope more or less held for the first twenty minutes, despite a questionable defensive game plan. Facing an offense that shoots a higher percentage of its field goals from behind the arc than any other Big East squad, Georgetown spent much of the first 20 minutes encouraging that long-range bombing, repeatedly helping on isolated Wildcat ball-handlers inside the arc. Experts at kicking out to open perimeter shooters for years on end, the Wildcats did exactly that, finding one three-pointer after another, and connecting at a 52 percent clip on the day.
Even so, the Hoyas mostly hung close for the first half by pounding the paint. Freshman big man Qudus Wahab was a particular bright spot down low, scoring a team-high 13 points by combining athletic energy with an evolving skillset around the basket. When the Wildcats threatened to pull away late in the first half, Wahab kept the Hoyas afloat, cleaning the glass and wheeling and dealing from the post. Entering the break, Georgetown trailed by just 3. Given all the defensive mistakes, it was unclear whether the Hoyas should have felt relieved or dismayed.
The answer arrived quickly after the break, when an early Villanova run pushed the Wildcats’ lead to double digits. Georgetown would never close within one possession again. Whenever the Hoyas could string together a couple of buckets, a Wildcat would break free beyond the arc, or cut uncontested to the rim. With Mac McClung shooting just 3 of 15 for the day and Georgetown finding net on only 31 percent of its triples, the Hoyas could not summon enough firepower to make up for their defensive miscues.
The Hoyas now return home for a pair of home dates against Creighton and Marquette. Given Georgetown’s road stumbles and thin rotation, these dates loom large.