Wildcats Pull Away Late, Defeat Hoyas 85-74


Courtesy of Nick Wass/AP Photography

A renewed defensive effort was key in securing the win over a struggling Georgetown squad.

Tyler Moore, Staff Writer

Longtime Big East rivals Villanova and Georgetown took the court in the nation’s capital on Saturday for the first time since the 2021 Big East Tournament quarterfinals. Last time, the Hoyas got the best of the ‘Cats and went on to win the tournament championship, marking their first win against the Wildcats in their last five meetings.

However, Villanova bounced back this time with an 85-74 win, turning things around from a stunning loss earlier in the week to Big East foe Marquette. The Wildcats improved to 14-5 overall and 7-2 in conference play, as the Hoyas remain at the bottom of the conference with a 6-10 and 0-5 record, respectively.

“Good road victory, I’m proud of our guys,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said postgame. “Every road game in the Big East is a difficult game. I give a lot of credit to Georgetown.”

Graduate guard Collin Gillespie was crucial for the Wildcats in their win, tying his season-high with 28 points and setting a season best, knocking down six threes on nine attempts. Junior guard Justin Moore and graduate forward Jermaine Samuels had solid outings as well, earning 19 and 18 points, respectively. After Georgetown went perfect from the free throw line the last time the two teams met, it made 16-of-17 from the stripe while the Wildcats made all 16 of their free throw attempts. Georgetown’s Collin Holloway and Dante Harris combined for 42 points to lead the Hoyas.

“[I’m] proud of our leadership— Collin, Jermaine, Justin— they did a great job,” Wright said.

The game did not always seem like it was going the Wildcats’ way as the Hoya defense kept pounding all game. As the ball went back and forth down the court, each team had its share in numerous lead changes in the first few minutes.

Georgetown began to place heavy pressure on Villanova’s inbounds passes, beginning just five minutes into the matchup. The Georgetown defense deflected numerous passes and created traps for ‘Nova, keeping the game within arms length.

The ‘Cats started to separate themselves starting with a three from Daniels in the middle of the first half, but Georgetown found a way to collect itself, making a run to take the lead at half, 40-37. Coming into half, ‘Nova had only two assists on 13 made field goals.

After the break, the Hoyas got off to a hot start as they denied the Wildcats any points for the first few minutes. Samuels broke the drought and began a dominant second half effort, battling through strong defense at the 17 minute mark. Samuels would later drive in for two more, and on the following play break through for another layup while being fouled. A layup on the next possession by junior guard Bryan Antoine gave Villanova its first lead of the second half.

Built on a heavy run by Samuels and Gillespie, ‘Nova took its first double digit lead of the game with about four minutes remaining. Most impressive by the day’s leading scorer was a last second three pointer in the remaining minutes to stretch the lead to 12. In what seemed like a play that would result in a turnover, Gillespie picked up a loose ball and got an open look at the basket.

“I knew the shot clock was low,” Gillespie said. “[Brandon Slater] got the loose ball and I had a clean look. I was confident, I stepped into it, and so I just took the shot.”

Wright also had a few words about not only the play, but Gillespie altogether.

“Yeah, pretty nice, right, when you have a guy like Collin Gillespie,” Wright said. “We got pretty fortunate there. That was a loose ball that Collin just picked up and shot, and that was probably the difference maker.”

The Hoyas fought until the end, but it was not enough to stop the dominant effort by Gillespie and the Wildcats in the second half.

Villanova returns home on Tuesday to face DePaul, looking to sweep the season series against the Blue Demons. The game will begin at 7 p.m. and air on FS1.