Three of the Wrong Kind

Allan Ray, Jonathan Wallace
Allan Ray, left, scores 21 points as he and No. 4 Villanova fight off 17th-ranked Georgetown on Sunday. (Tim Shaffer - Reuters)

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By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 20, 2006

VILLANOVA, Pa., Feb. 19 -- Georgetown's players probably did not need to be reminded of where they stood as the final minute ran off the clock Sunday against fourth-ranked Villanova. But just in case the Hoyas were unaware of what their 75-65 loss to the Wildcats meant, the student section inside the sold-out Pavilion serenaded the visitors with chants of "Three straight losses! Three straight losses!"

The 17th-ranked Hoyas, who only eight days ago were riding high on a seven-game winning streak, finished a long week with another loss to add to ones against West Virginia and Marquette. Georgetown (17-7, 8-5) dropped into a tie with the Golden Eagles for fifth place in the Big East.

"Are we the most confident group in the country right now after having lost three straight? No," said Georgetown Coach John Thompson III, whose team will host Rutgers (15-11, 5-8) on Wednesday night. "But our guys, they know what we are capable of."

On Sunday, three Georgetown starters shot a combined 18 for 30 and scored 51 points: center Roy Hibbert (20 points and 12 rebounds), forward Jeff Green (15 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) and guard Ashanti Cook (16 points, including four three-pointers). But that wasn't enough to make up for sub-par contributions from the other three regulars, guard Jonathan Wallace (four points), swingman Darrel Owens (zero points) and forward Brandon Bowman (four points).

Bowman, the team's leading scorer who played well in the Hoyas' two previous wins over top 10 teams (Duke and Pittsburgh), was a non-factor. The 6-foot-9 senior had no rebounds; he played just 10 minutes in the second half and all he had to show for it was two turnovers.

"We need everyone to play well for us to win," Thompson said. "That's where this group is, that's our team. When everyone plays well, we can beat anyone. We've got to have all our pieces clicking. You can sit there and rattle off however many people that played well and we still lost by 10. It also says that Villanova is a good team."

Much is made of the Wildcats' use of a four-guard lineup, but Thompson said that obscures the fact the guards -- particularly senior Randy Foye and sophomore Kyle Lowry -- are tough rebounders. Villanova's 13 offensive rebounds especially hurt the Hoyas.

Georgetown actually shot better than Villanova did (48.9 percent to 44.1 percent), but the Wildcats attempted 12 more shots. Said Thompson: "They shoot too well, they score too well to give them second or third shots. We have to get those."

During one interminable possession late in the first half, the Wildcats took five shots and missed them all before the Hoyas regained control of the ball. In the final minute of the game, with Georgetown trailing by seven points, Lowry and Owens -- who is six inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Lowry -- went after the same missed shot, tapping it high into the air. Lowry came up with the ball, and the Wildcats scored on a Foye layup.

Villanova (21-2, 11-1) had not played since beating top-ranked Connecticut last Monday. The Wildcats opened the game by making their first six three-point attempts, and they finished with 12 (five from senior Allan Ray, who scored 20 points). They also committed just three turnovers -- none in the second half.

Green's three-pointer from the left corner gave the Hoyas a 38-37 lead -- their last of the game -- with 15 minutes 59 seconds left to play. But Foye (22 points) led the Wildcats on a 16-5 run over the next five minutes to open up a 10-point lead with 10:28 left. Foye scored eight points in that stretch -- he got to the free throw line, bullied his way to the basket and hit a three-pointer -- and he also stole an inbounds pass and made a great feed for an open dunk by Will Sheridan.

The Hoyas whittled the lead to 59-57 with 5:37 remaining. But Green missed an open three-pointer from the top of the key, and at the other end, Lowry split two defenders and made a difficult layup while being fouled. On the next possession, Lowry blew past two Georgetown defenders for a layup to put Villanova up 64-57. Ray made two three-pointers in the final 3:21.

"You're going to have your ups and downs in the season, and right now we're in the down part," Cook said. "It kind of hurts, three games in a row, but those games are behind us and we've got to use it as motivation to get better at the offensive end and defensive end."


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