“Saddiq Bey played his butt off,” Georgetown Coach Patrick Ewing said. “I mean, I know he improved his shooting, but I didn’t know he was going to go 8 for 10 from three.”
The Hoyas (11-6, 1-3 Big East) got contributions from up and down the roster but not where it counted most. Omer Yurtseven (10 points, seven rebounds) and Mac McClung (eight points) had subpar performances, and no amount of filling in from freshmen center Qudus Wahab or point guard Terrell Allen could make up for their absences — nor counter Bey’s best game of the season.
Wahab led Georgetown with 13 points in 15 minutes in relief of Yurtseven. Allen had 10 points and six assists with three turnovers, and junior wing Jamorko Picket had 12 points thanks in large part to an active first half.
“If your two best players are not playing well, it’s hard to beat a team like this,” Ewing said.
Although Ewing gave them credit, Villanova’s other players weren’t that much more inspiring. But Bey was all the Wildcats (12-3, 3-1) needed. Emerging from a small dip — the sophomore is the team’s second-leading scorer, but he had as many points Saturday as he did in the previous four games combined — Bey carried Villanova though stretches of lax defense in the first half and was his team’s only scorer in double figures until a pair of free throws put Jeremiah Robinson-Earl at 10 points with 3:35 to play. Robinson-Earl, a 6-9 forward who guarded Yurtseven for much of the game, finished with 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
“He’s learning how to be a go-to guy,” Villanova Coach Jay Wright said of Bey. “When you’re a go-to guy, you can’t be afraid to have that night where you look really bad and everyone says, ‘We lost because you can’t make a shot.’ You can’t be afraid of that. He wasn’t afraid — he definitely wasn’t afraid today, and that’s how you have good games.”
Bey shot an impressive 10 for 15 from the floor, and his special outing put what might have been a winnable game out of reach for the Hoyas.
Georgetown trailed by just three after a tight first half despite a barrage of three-pointers from the Wildcats, but the hole got deeper immediately after halftime when Villanova opened with a jumper from Robinson-Earl, McClung turned the ball over and Bey — you guessed it — turned it into a three-pointer.
“Two quick mistakes and a turnover — we were right there, three points. . . . It was an uphill battle after that,” Ewing said.
With 14:52 to play, Robinson-Earl pushed the Wildcats’ lead from five to seven. Then Yurtseven was called for three seconds, and on the ensuing possession Pickett fouled Bey as he attempted a shot from deep. The sophomore from Largo hit two of three at the foul line, then capped the run with another three-pointer to give Villanova a 12-point lead, its largest of the game at the time.
The Hoyas shaved the lead to seven, but Bey wiped away their last real attempt at a comeback with ease — and, of course, a three-pointer.
“I thought in the second half we didn’t change anything; we just did what we were trying to do in the beginning,” Wright said. “. . . We made some shots, probably wore them down.”
Ewing wouldn’t allow his short bench to serve as an excuse, even though Georgetown hung with Villanova in the first half and couldn’t complete the task.
The Wildcats bombarded the Hoyas from deep — 10 of their 14 field goals were from beyond the arc — yet Georgetown trailed just 39-36 at halftime thanks to good shot selection and a strong showing by Wahab. The product of Flint Hill School in Oakton came off the bench midway through the half after Yurtseven picked up two fouls; Wahab led the Hoyas with nine points and three rebounds before halftime.
Wahab has proved himself a capable backup for Yurtseven in small spurts, but the 6-foot-11 center staged a coming-out party Saturday. In a two-minute stretch late in the half, the native Nigerian threw down a dunk, shimmied into position for a hook shot, grabbed an offensive rebound and pulled off a three-point play to tie the score at 34 with 2:48 until intermission.
Ewing was asked afterward whether he might increase Wahab’s playing time.
“If he plays like that, yes. To me, today he was much better than Omer. He was effective getting the ball in the post, blocking shots,” Ewing said.
“I can’t say what I said to them [after the game]. But we didn’t play our best game today. We have to continue to grow. We can’t worry about what happened, who’s here, who’s not here; this is our team. We need for our guys to step up and play, play hard and play well.”