WASHINGTON (AP) - Before tipoff, Georgetown coach John Thompson III gained a player and lost a player. The last thing he needed was a huge free throw discrepancy against a top 10 team.
The short-handed Hoyas lost their fifth straight Monday night, falling 65-60 to No. 9 Villanova in a game of starts and stops. There were 34 turnovers, 39 fouls and 41 field goals, but the most notable stat came at the free throw line: The visitors made 22 of 28, the home team hit 8 of 9.
“We’re getting the ball into the paint, we’re getting penetration, we’re getting drives, we’re getting the ball down low. Fouls aren’t being called,” Thompson said. “I’m not saying we’re being fouled and they’re not called. I don’t know, but you look at that stat right away and you see we shot nine foul shots they shoot 28, so we’ve got to figure out how to get fouled.”
Markel Starks scored 20 points for the Hoyas (11-9, 3-6 Big East), who have their longest losing streak since 2011 and have dropped three straight at home for the first time since 2009.
James Bell scored 16 points on 4-for-11 shooting, and Daniel Ochefu added 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting for the Wildcats (18-2, 7-1), who forced 18 turnovers while committing 16 and moved into a tie for first place in the conference with No. 20 Creighton.
Villanova coach Jay Wright said the game was “old-school Big East” and “fun,” but many whistles produced puzzled faces as both teams, along with the officials, continue to adjust to this season’s emphasis on calling more touch fouls. In a game with no flow whatsoever, the biggest lead was eight points - and that’s only because Georgetown scored the first eight points of the game.
“We love that. Both teams are just so physical and so tough,” Wright said. “And that game was played within new rules, and I think both of us are learning how to play that way. … I think down the stretch we played pretty good defense. Sometimes you’ve got to win that way.”
On the losing end, Thompson said that “every game seems to be called differently” and added: “One could say that opposite ends of court are called differently.”
Starks’ floater cut Georgetown’s deficit to 61-58 with 2:08 to play, but he was called for an offensive foul after making a pass under the basket with 35 seconds remaining. Villanova then made a series of free throws to hold on for the win.
Before the game started, Georgetown had another day of ups and downs on the roster. Jabril Trawick returned after missing five games with a broken jaw and played 12 minutes, and senior center Moses Ayegba had to sit out due to a one-game NCAA suspension.
Ayegba’s suspension looked like a bureaucratic mess, even by NCAA standards. It was related to the nine-game suspension he received as a freshman for violating pre-enrollment rules, an infraction that the Hoyas have said was connected to a plane ticket that brought him from Nigeria to the United States years ago - before Georgetown even started recruiting him.
Thompson said he had no inkling of any impending issues regarding Ayegba until Monday afternoon- and the coach didn’t know for sure whether Ayegba would play until less than three hours before tipoff.
The Hoyas were already playing without center Joshua Smith, who was recently ruled out for the rest of the season due to academic issues.
“We’re going to look under every rock, we’re going to try to figure it out. We’re going to get out of this hole,” Thompson said. “I don’t have all the answers as to how.”