Postgame Roundup: Super ‘Nova Pops Hoyas’ NCAA Bubble
PHILADELPHIA—The NCAA Tournament bubble might have just burst for the Georgetown men’s basketball team (17-13, 8-10 Big East) in their regular season finale, as they let a prime résumé-building opportunity go to waste against No. 6 Villanova (28-3, 16-2 Big East) in a 77-59 loss on Saturday afternoon.
“We have to play better than we did today,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said following the loss.
The Hoyas encountered difficulties right from the opening tip, with five turnovers in the opening five minutes of the game. As a result, the Wildcats jumped out to a 14-7 lead, from which they never looked back.
“We have a small margin of error. We came out early and had unnecessary, unforced turnovers,” Thompson said. “[Our] turnovers led to transition baskets for them, which … got them going. We tried to claw back and had some missed opportunities.”
For the game, the Blue and Gray had 18 total turnovers, which the Wildcats converted into 22 points. Georgetown sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, who finished with 14 points and a team-high five rebounds, believes that the Blue and Gray were overzealous on the offensive end compared to their last three games, where they only had 17 turnovers combined.
“We were just trying to make home-run plays instead of being simple, playing how we usually play,” Smith-Rivera said. “We just forced a lot of things that we shouldn’t have. They came up with steals and got a lot of transition baskets.”
Foul trouble, especially early on, plagued the Hoyas throughout the game. Senior guard Markel Starks, senior forward Nate Lubick, and junior forward Jabril Trawick all accumulated untimely fouls that short-handed the Hoyas for much of the first half, while junior forward Mikael Hopkins fouled out with five fouls in the second half alone. Starks finished with a game-high 20 points, but his and Trawick’s inopportune absences from the court for significant periods of time proved too fatal for the Blue and Gray, as both individually accrued their lowest minutes totals of the last five games.
“We’ve had several games where our post players have been in significant foul trouble. Sometimes we’ve figured it out, sometimes we haven’t,” Thompson said. “It’s more harmful for us when our guards or perimeter players are in foul trouble, because we depend on them so much.”
Villanova, on the other hand, demonstrated why they are the Big East regular season champions. With five players scoring in double figures, the Wildcats showcased their offensive arsenal as they shot 51 percent from the field, including 47 percent from three-point range. Junior guard Darrun Hilliard paced the Wildcats with 19 points, on 7-of-11 shooting and game-high five assists, while junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston added 13 points and game-high seven rebounds.
“They’re a very unselfish team,” Thompson said. “They drive and kick it to the person that’s open and that person can make a shot. The pressure that they put on you on both ends of the court is what makes them effective.”
The loss clinches the No. 7 seed for the Blue and Gray in the upcoming Big East Tournament, where they will face No. 10 seed DePaul (11-20, 3-15 Big East) on Wednesday night in the opening round. The Hoyas will need to win at least two tournament games if they want to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Thompson acknowledged it’s all or nothing for his team.
“We’re going to go prepared,” he said. “We will put all of our energy into getting ready for that first game.”
Trawick and his teammates welcome the challenge.
“I think the whole season we’ve been dealing with adversity,” he said. “We just got to be tough.”
Photo: Georgetown Voice/Freddy Rosas