Georgetown's problems pile up as Villanova finds late-game solutions
This whole basketball season thing is not going very well for Georgetown. On Monday, for example, the Hoyas received at least a glimmer of good tidings with the return of Jabril Trawick, a former starter sidelined by a broken jaw. This was empirically favorable, no matter how much or how little Trawick might help. This also apparently meant someone had to unlatch a different trap door.
Because also on Monday, Georgetown center Moses Ayegbo was forced to sit out a matchup with No. 9 Villanova. He was suspended one game, apparently, because the nine-game suspension he served as a freshman didn’t quite fit the crime of accepting a plane ticket from Nigeria to the U.S. Everyone figured this out Monday. Four years later. With a top 10 team visiting. And with a Josh Smith suspension and a four-game losing streak already undermining everything pretty well already.
Villanova’s 65-60 win solved some of its own minor problems while exacerbating all of Georgetown’s. That’s five losses in a row, the program’s longest since 2010-11. That’s a 3-6 start in the Big East, including three debilitating losses at home. On Saturday, the Hoyas step out of conference and step into a rockslide by facing Michigan State in New York. After that, the only hope is that Trawick rounds back into form (he played 12 minutes Monday) and that games against league bottom-feeders DePaul and Butler can provide some solace. Because it doesn’t appear any NCAA tournament bid will do so, especially not when the regular season ends with consecutive games against Xavier, Marquette, Creighton and a Villanova rematch.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, did nearly everything right in the final minute after doing nearly everything wrong in what was a controversy-splashed overtime win at Marquette on Saturday.
A couple of missed free throws in the last 60 seconds won’t help anyone sleep, but Villanova got the crucial block-charge call to go its way this time, thanks to James Bell making a defensive statement after letting his long-range shooting do so all night. With Georgetown trailing 61-58, guard Markel Starks drove baseline and flung a pass to the corner for what might have been a tying three-pointer, but Bell made a perfect defensive rotation to greet Starks in the paint. Starks jumped as he threw the pass and Bell was there as the Hoyas' guard landed, drawing the charge with 33.8 seconds to go, one of Georgetown’s 18 turnovers.
With the lead at four, the Wildcats allowed Trawick to get off two shots in the lane, but they corralled the defensive rebound after the second miss for a critical close-out. Georgetown missed on its next possession, too. After his Villanova team surrendered a late three-pointer and committed a late, dumb foul on another three-point heave against Marquette, it's no wonder coach Jay Wright hailed his team’s defense and last-minute doggedness against the Hoyas in a postgame interview with Fox Sports’ Bill Raftery. Villanova is now 5-0 on the road ahead of the Big East midpoint, some crucial leverage in pursuit of Creighton for the regular-season championship. Its late-game proficiency was a nice recovery from a late-game swoon it survived only days earlier. Georgetown, meanwhile, couldn’t muster much more than the apprehension that everything just gets harder from here.