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Georgetown rally falls short this time in loss to Villanova

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Washington Post staff writer
Monday, January 18, 2010

PHILADELPHIA -- For the second time in the past eight days, Georgetown mounted a furious attempt to claw back from a double-digit deficit following an error-prone, poor-shooting first half against a gifted Big East opponent.

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But this time -- in front of a hostile, capacity crowd of 20,016 at Wachovia Center -- the No. 11 Hoyas' rally against fourth-ranked Villanova fell short despite a career-high 29 points from sophomore center Greg Monroe.

While Monroe proved virtually unstoppable, adding 16 rebounds, which tied a career high, Villanova clamped down on the rest of the Hoyas and held on for an 82-77 victory that kept its Big East record spotless.

After trailing 40-23 in the first half, Georgetown (13-3, 4-2) did well to knot the score at 67 with 4 minutes 35 seconds remaining -- and again at 69 -- both times on shots by Monroe.

But unlike their come-from-behind victory over Connecticut, the Hoyas couldn't get out of the hole they dug early, turning over the ball nine times in the first half, which led to easy buckets for Villanova (16-1, 5-0) and senior guard Scottie Reynolds of Herndon, who had 27 points.

Moreover, early foul trouble sharply limited Georgetown starters Julian Vaughn and junior point guard Chris Wright, who each picked up three fouls in the first half.

That thrust a greater role on freshmen Jerrelle Benimon and Hollis Thompson, who played 21 and 17 minutes, respectively. While Benimon (four points, six rebounds) grabbed some key boards in what proved a physical game down the stretch, Thompson never could find his shooting touch, going 0 of 7 from the floor.

Villanova's reserves outscored Georgetown's, 25-4. It was a Wildcats freshman, Isaiah Armwood, who did the best defensive job against Monroe in the critical moments down the stretch. And it was also a freshman reserve, Maalik Wayns, who hit clutch free throws with 14 seconds left to keep nudging Villanova's margin out of the Hoyas' reach.

Georgetown Coach John Thompson III played down the role that the fouls had on his team's performance.

"It's an issue if the people that are coming in aren't producing," Thompson said. "It's an issue if all the sudden it's a tremendous drop-off."

In this case, Thompson added, the Hoyas' backups played well.

Benimon "was unhealthy for the first three or four months" because of a high-ankle sprain, Thompson said. "He's healthy now, and he's getting all the reps in practice. So he is a presence in there. He'll continue to get better, as will Hollis."

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