PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/6/2013 – The Villanova Wildcats were coming off two disappointing losses to Seton Hall and Pittsburgh. The team needed to bounce back, but would have to do so against the 5th ranked Hoyas of Georgetown. Their NCAA Tournament hopes may or may not have rested on this game. Still, not the easiest of circumstances to have to play a game. Villanova responded positively and defeated another top five nationally ranked team taking down Georgetown 67 – 57 at the Wells Fargo Center. Villanova Coach Jay Wright was very impressed by how his team shrugged off the two previous games to perform as well as they did in this game.
“I’m just really proud, not just proud but impressed with our guys,” said Wright. “To come away from the last two games with losses after we played very well. most young people would feel sorry for themselves. These guys just came to work every day. No days off after Pittsburgh. Our guys played great defense. That Georgetown team executes as well as any team in the country. I’m very proud of them.”
Earlier this season Villanova beat #5 Louisville and #3 Syracuse at the Center. Georgetown would be the third top five opponent Villanova would face at this venue. The Wildcats used aggressive play on both ends of the floor to get the victory. On offense Villanova continually took the ball to the basket. The result was the Wildcats went to the free throw line 42 times in the game converting 30. Sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston went to the line 14 times converting 11. Georgetown relied on the jump shot and got to the foul line 8 times. It would be safe to say that Villanova won the game at the line as Wildcats scored one basket in the last 14:19 after a Pinkston 3-pointer. The only other field goal was a shot from beyond the arc by sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard that put Villanova ahead by 54 – 48 with 5:43 to play. From the fourteen minute mark on the Wildcats converted 20 of 26 free throws. Each one was needed to blunt each Georgetown charge.
“We couldn’t turn the corner,” said Georgetown Coach John Thompson III. “We had some open shots, but couldn’t make them. They answered with a huge three from Hilliard.”
The Wildcats closed the game making 11 of 12 that stretched the lead from 56 – 52 to the final ten-point margin.
On the defensive end of the floor Georgetown committed 23 turnovers giving Villanova a 24 – 15 edge in points off turnovers. The mistakes frustrated the Georgetown offense as much as it created opportunities for Villanova.
“We went out there and focused on defense,” said Pinkston. “Our defense turned into our offense. That helped us a lot, getting steals.”
“Look at the turnovers, we had 23 and they had 17,” said Thompson III. “Of all the numbers on the stat sheet, that jumps out at me the most. Our turnovers hurt us.”
Pinkston scored a game-high 20 points for the Wildcats and added a career-high 5 steals. Hillard added 14 points, half coming at the foul line, and stole the ball 3 times.. Freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono scored 11 points and handed out a game-high 6 assists. Senior forward Mouphtaou Yarou pulled down a game-best 12 rebounds to go along with 4 steals. Villanova had 15 steals in the game, the most this season. Otto Porter, Jr. led Georgetown with 17 points.
Villanova notched its 10th Big East win as the conclude the season 19 – 12 overall, 10 – 8 in the Big East. Wright views 10 Big East wins as huge. Their next game will be in the Big East Tournament where the Cats go for win number 20. Villanova will be seeded 7th or 8th at Madison Square Garden. The Wildcats also bolstered their NCAA Tournament resume with this win. Wright feels that his team will be included once the parings are announced on Selection Sunday.
“I would think so having ten wins in the league with the quality of wins against high-caliber teams,” Wright said. “Given where everything is right now we would be. We’re in a good spot right now. We’re not going to worry about that. I feel good about how we are playing right now. ”
Written By: Glenn Papazian