No. 17 Villanova opened Big East play going 11-0, putting the rest of the conference on notice as the Wildcats stood as the clear favorites to win the conference title. The team came up short in a dogfight against Marquette and dropped a game in a devastating loss to St.Johns’ this past Sunday, moving to 11-2 in conference and 20-6 overall. The Wildcats were looking for a comeback win to revitalize the team. In the last matchup against Georgetown, the Wildcats did a good of job shutting down Georgetown’s top shooters, keeping Mac McClung to 4 points and Jessie Govan scoreless throughout the game while Collin Gillespie went off for a 30-point night, hitting six threes.
As with any Big East matchup, the Wildcats were expecting a challenge. At the first official break, the Cats were leading 8-7. It was a seesaw battle as the teams went back and through with each other in the early going. With the Cats down 15-10, a two-handed hammer and the and-1 finish by Eric Paschall seemed to wake the team up. As the Hoyas tried to pull away, Phil Booth answered with a three to pull the Cats within four (26-22) and keep the team within striking distance. Nice shooting and defensive plays were able to give Georgetown a 14 point lead with a minute to play in the first half. A dunk from Saddiq Bey and two free throws from Gillespie cut the lead to 10 as the Wildcats headed into halftime down 42-32.
Villanova cut the Hoyas lead down to seven, putting the score at 50-43, with a three-point shot from Booth. Georgetown responded by going on an 8-0 run giving them a 15 point lead with 13:13 left to play. Jahvon Quinerly helped shave the deficit after sinking a corner three getting the team within 11 with 11:19 to play. The Wildcats did not stop competing, showing different defensive pressures that they were able to convert into points, but the Hoyas were able to hold them off as the Wildcats lost their second in a row.
Defense and rebounding were issues tonight for the Wildcats. At the half, they were out-rebounded 20-10. The Hoyas shot 50.9% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc. The foul trouble by the big men (Jermaine Samuels and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree fouled out, Bey had 3 fouls) allowed Georgetown to take advantage of the size mismatches. Villanova’s shooting woes in the St.Johns matchup carried over into this game as the team was held to 38% from the field and 24% from beyond the arc. The Wildcats will look to snap a three game losing streak at Xavier on Sunday.