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No Fun: Villanova Storms Back in Second Half to Nip Georgetown, 85-74

Holloway Scores 25, Harris 17 as Hoyas Fall to 0-5 in Big East Play

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Georgetown Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Your Georgetown Hoyas returned to Capital One Center to play Jay Wright and his #11-ranked Villanova Wildcats. Hoyas fans surely expected an uphill climb against a Wildcats team that may have had revenge on its mind after losing to Georgetown in last year’s Big East tournament. However, the Hoyas delivered one of their best performances of the season but ultimately lostto a more talented and experienced team. The Hoyas are now 2-8 against the Wildcats during Coach Ewing’s tenure and fall to 0-5 in Big East Play.

For the second game in a row, the Hoyas started Collin Holloway in place of Kaiden Rice. The decision paid immediate dividends as Holloway scored the Hoyas’ first five points off a tip-in and 3-pointer. Villanova kept pace via talented junior Justin Moore. Despite some early turnovers, Georgetown fedoff the lively Capital One crowd and trailed by one at the 5-minute mark.

Villanova responded with a run that began when it turned away Hoya center Timothy Ighoefe at the rim on back-to-back shots. Coach Ewing inserted Malcolm Wilson, who gave up a layup to Jermaine Samuels. Villanova led 19-11 with 12 minutes left in the half.

Georgetown cut into the lead by tightening up its reboundingand exerting timely full-court pressure. An and-1 by Aminu Mohammed brought Georgetown within 3 with 8 minutes left in the half. The teams continued to go back and forth, and Villanova was forced to call timeout after consecutive Dante Harris 3s. The Hoyas ended the half on a 10-3 run, keyed by Harris free throws and two Don Carey jumpers.

The first half against Villanova unquestionably featured some ofGeorgetown’s best basketball since its magical Big East Tournament run. Collin Holloway led the way with 12 big pointsand 3 assists. Aminu Mohammed chipped in with 9 points andbefuddled the Wildcats with his swarming defense. This was what Hoyas fans had hoped to see this season.

Georgetown continued its inspired play in the second half. A Holloway floater was followed by a Harris layup off of a Mohammed feed. Jay Wright called a quick timeout with the Hoyas up 7. The Hoyas were able to extend the lead to 8 on a Holloway 3-pointer, before Villanova mounted a comebackfueled by Moore and Samuels that would nudge Villanova aheadwith 14 minutes left in the half.

Both teams continued to shoot well, but Villanova began to assert its dominance in the paint against a small Georgetown lineup. Some inspired low-post work from small-ball center “All Day” Holloway was answered by a Collin Gillespie 3. Villanova clung to a 2-point lead with 10 minutes left.

Coach Ewing turned briefly to an Ighoefe / Billingsley frontcourt, and another Gillespie 3 extended Villanova’s lead to 5. The Hoyas began to exhibit poor shot selection as Rice and Carey both whiffed on contested 3-pointers. A Caleb Daniels’ 3 extended Villanova’s lead and an and-1 from Gillespie made it70-60 with 4 minutes left in the game.

Harris tried to bring the Hoyas back, but Moore and Gillespie found more success in the paint for Villanova. Holloway’s 23rdpoints of the game cut Villanova’s lead to 7 with 2 minutes left,but Gillespie effectively ended the game with a dagger triple. Georgetown falls to Villanova, 85-74.

There was much to celebrate about today’s contest. Collin Holloway cemented his hold on the starting power forward position by pouring in 25 points on an absurd 9-10 from the floor. Fellow sophomore Dante Harris saw his shooting stroke return on the way to 17 points. Mohammed exhibited characteristically tenacious defense and slick footwork in the paint on offense. The Hoyas as a team moved the ball very well, racking up 18 assists.

Nevertheless, this was also the Hoyas’ fourth double-digit loss in Big East play. Coach Ewing continues to search for answers at the center spot in particular. Starter Ighoefe failed to score in 20 minutes, and backup Malcolm Wilson saw the floor for only 3 minutes. Ryan Mutombo also received a DNP for the second time this season despite showing signs of a developed offensive game prior to the team’s Covid break. The Hoyas may have had little choice but to go small and stick to a tight rotation against the Wildcats, but several players were noticeably exhausted in the second half, aiding the Wildcats’ comeback.

Hoyas fans will hope that the team builds on its excellent effort against Villanova when it plays the Connecticut Huskies in Storrs on Tuesday. Until then, Hoya Saxa.