PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Nearly three weeks after absorbing a 78-58 loss at Georgetown, Villanova turned the tables on its long-time BIG EAST rival by posting a 69-53 win over the Hoyas in the rematch played before a sellout throng of 20, 587 at the Wells Fargo Center.
A 13-0 run early in the first half gave the Wildcats control of the game that they never relinquished, despite committing a season-high 20 turnovers. Senior Darrun Hilliard led a balanced attack with 15 points for VU, which improves to 21-2 overall, 8-2 in the BIG EAST.
Georgetown (15-8 overall, 7-5 BIG EAST) was paced by 15 points from L.J. Peak.
The Wildcats were boosted by a 12-of-24 effort from beyond the 3-point arc. Meanwhile, they limited the Hoyas to a single made 3-point field goal on the day (1-of-17, .006).
"18-to-22 year olds," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "They looked like we did last time and we looked like they did. Maybe next game will be a one-pointer.
"I was just really proud of our defense. Dylan (Ennis) has been great at leading us defensively here for a while and Darrun (Hilliard) has been a leader all year. I am just really proud of the defensive effort. It was sloppy offensively and we can get a lot better there."
Ennis - who finished with eight points, four rebounds, three blocked shots and a pair of steals in 30 minutes - was part of a stingy defense that limited the Hoyas to 18-of-60 shooting on the afternoon (.300) from the field. His pressure on pre-season BIG EAST Player of the Year D'Vaunates Smith-Rivera (two points on the day) was especially critical to the cause.
"We looked at the tape from last game as a staff," noted Wright. "We were so bad that it was hard to tell if it was our scheme or was it that we were that bad. We just weren't doing any of the things we do. So we basically had the same game plan. We just played harder and did what we do better."
A key stretch came after the Hoyas had grabbed a 7-6 lead at the 15:19 mark of the first half. A long 3-pointer from Hilliard ignited that 13-0 spurt that also included a pair of made 3-pointers by Ennis. After a layup by sophomore Josh Hart - who started the game in place of junior Daniel Ochefu - the Wildcats held a 19-7 lead with 10:29 left and the raucous crowd was involved.
"We weren't great offensively at the beginning," stated Wright, "but defensively we were really focused. We created turnovers and got easy baskets off of the turnovers, which kind of loosened up their defense a little bit."
Indeed, the Wildcats would end the afternoon with a 24-8 advantage in points off of turnovers. That was a near complete reversal from the first meeting, when Georgetown owned a 24-7 edge in points off of turnovers.
By halftime, Villanova had crafted a 37-23 advantage. The lead would remain in double digits the rest of the way. The margin grew to as many as 24 points before the final minutes. The final was 69-53.
"Like (Wright) has said in the past, we don't look at it as revenge," explained Hilliard. "They played well when we played them at Georgetown. For us, we just take this as our next game. We wanted to be better than we were in our previous game.
"We just look at how we're doing as a team and we go from there."
The Wildcats will head out back on the road next week when they visit Providence for their first meeting with the Friars of 2014-15 on Wednesday (8 p.m./Fox Sports 1). They are scheduled to be back on campus for a bit more than 24 hours before departing Friday for Indianapolis. Villanova is at Butler on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) at 6 p.m. (CBS Sports Network).
OF NOTE: This represented the second largest crowd to see a Villanova Basketball game at the Wells Fargo Center. The only larger turnout came on Feb. 13, 2006, when the No. 4 Wildcats hosted No. 1 Connecticut and drew 20,859 to the arena.
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