March 6, 2013
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - For the third time in as many visits to the Wells Fargo Center, Villanova has knocked off a Top Five team. The Wildcats leaned on a gritty defensive effort to post a 67-57 triumph over No. 5 Georgetown, snapping the Hoyas' 11 game win streak.
"That was a great win for us and I think you all can see how good they are," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "I'm really impressed over these last couple of games by how our guys have come away from losses having played really well and just kept coming to work every day. They didn't feel sorry for themselves."
In its previous two contests, at Seton Hall on Feb. 25 and at Pittsburgh last Sunday, the Wildcats held a four point lead with just more than a minute remaining. But VU dropped both decisions.
"I thought our guys just played great defense tonight," stated Wright. "That Georgetown team probably executes its offense as well as anyone in the country. We had two days of hard practice and we really did a good job. I'm very proud of them."
JayVaughn Pinkston led the Wildcats with 20 points, including 11-of-14 at the free throw line. Darrun Hilliard added 14 points, including a huge 3-pointer with 5:42 to play that extended a 3-point lead to six. On the night, VU was 30-of-42 (.714) at the line.
The Hoyas were led by Otto Porter Jr.'s 17 points. Markel Starks added 12 points before fouling out late in the contest. D'Vaun Smith-Rivera contributed 14 points for Georgetown.
Georgetown brought an 11-game winning streak with it to the Wells Fargo Center and quickly showed how it had risen to the top of the BIG EAST, scoring the game's first seven points in just 70 seconds. Starks got things going with a 3-pointer on the opening possession and then created two open court scoring chances with full and ¾ quart pressure.
Mouphtaou Yarou scored Villanova's first basket of the night and helped spark a 7-2 run by the Wildcats that brought them back to within 9-7 at the 15:34 mark of the first half.
The Wildcats kept pushing and grabbed their first lead of the night at 10-9 when a James Bell 3-point attempt bounced straight up off the front rim before falling through the net. VU used defense to craft a 19-14 edge with 7:50 to go in the first period. A beautiful spin move basket by free throw and another free throw by the native of Brooklyn, N.Y., helped push the edge to 23-14.
Another Starks three and an in-bounds score by Porter helped begin an 11-2 run for the Hoyas that brought them back to tie the game at 25 with under two minutes to play before halftime.
The Wildcats, though, scored eight points over the final two minutes of the period to take a 33-29 lead into the break. Pinkston topped the `Cats with nine points in the stanza while Bell added eight more.
The Hoyas sank a 3-pointer to open the second half before Villanova reeled off seven consecutive points to push their edge back to 39-32 three minutes into the period. Porter Jr., scored five straight points for the Hoyas to cut the lead to 39-36 at the 16:07 mark of the second period.
Villanova pushed the lead out to 44-36 after a Pinkston corner three only to see the Hoyas come right back with five in a row. It was 44-41 with 11:15 on the clock in favor of the Wildcats.
From there, it was a stellar defensive effort. The Wildcats helped keep Porter in check by leaning on Bell, Pinkston, Hilliard and Daniel Ochefu.
"It really was a team defensive effort," noted Wright.
Now, the Wildcats wait until Saturday to learn which opponent they will face at next week's 2013 BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden. The `Cats will play Wednesday against an opponent to be determined.
As he reflected on the conclusion of the regular season, Wright says he looks at the improvement his team has made rather on where it all might lead.
"We've gotten better," Wright stated. "To finish 10-8 in this league means you are a good team. I just feel good about how we're playing right now."