Men’s Basketball Improves to .500 in Big East Play with Win over Georgetown


Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

Mark Armstrong added 14 bench points for the Wildcats.

Jacob Artz, Staff Writer

Villanova needed a win, and it got one.

The Wildcats slowly put away Georgetown in the second half to pick up a 73-57 victory Wednesday night at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. 

“Georgetown’s tough,” Villanova head coach Kyle Neptune said. “They have a lot of guys who can beat you. Credit to our guys coming out and playing harder in the second half.” 

Villanova (8-7, 2-2 Big East) pulled away in the second half thanks to strong defense and the sharp shooting of graduate guard Caleb Daniels.  

Daniels already had three 3-pointers to his credit in the first half and made all the threes he attempted early in the second half to give the Wildcats the breathing room they needed to win the game. 

Daniels’ barrage started when the clock read 18:17 off a solid screen from redshirt junior forward Eric Dixon. The shot was initially ruled a deep two, but after review, was granted the full three points. 

Another Daniels three-point shot was hit with 14:54 to go from the left corner to make it 45-38 ‘Cats. His last within the spurt occurred with 13:25 to go to give the ‘Cats a seven-point edge. The first 18 points of the night for Daniels came from downtown. 

“Caleb’s been huge for us all season,” Neptune said. “He’s definitely our leader. He’s our heart and soul. He’s done a little bit of everything. He’s scored for us. He’s been a great guy defensively.” 

Daniels ended up with 20 points, making 6-of-13 threes. Freshman guard Mark Armstrong put in a career-high 14 points off the bench, going 4-for-9 from the field and making all six free throws attempts. Graduate forward Brendon Slater chipped in 14 points. Dixon has scored in double figures in every game this season, adding 10 in this game. Freshman forward Cam Whitmore had eight points and seven rebounds. 

“I thought Mark was really good tonight, especially defensively, and then, Cam, same thing,” Neptune said. “Came out, gave us a lot of energy, especially defensively and rebounding.” 

Villanova shot 42.6% from the field and 33.3% from three, making nine from deep. Georgetown was held to 4-of-20 from three, good for only 20%. 

Georgetown (5-11, 0-5 Big East) only managed 22 points in the second half and became extremely sloppy on offense, forcing jump shots after finding success in the paint during the first half. After the Hoyas reached 41 points at 14:37, they only made one of their next 11 shots and did not make another shot until the 8:59 mark with a jumper from junior forward Akok Akok.  

The leading scorer for Georgetown, sophomore guard Primo Spears (16.0 points per game), only managed eight points, but tallied nine assists. Its second-leading scorer, sophomore guard Brandon Murray (15.5 ppg), scored nine points before exiting early in the second half with a shoulder injury. 

With the loss, Georgetown sets the record for most consecutive losses in regular season Big East play at 25. The record is surprising considering the Hoyas won the 2021 Big East Tournament.  

Villanova entered a rough patch at the 9:20 mark where it did not register a field goal made until the 5:07 mark. Trey Patterson, Daniels and Armstrong added six total free throws during this stretch. 

The ‘Cats were a perfect 18-for-18 from the line and have made 94% of their free throws in the last four games. 

How do they do it? 

“Recruiting,” Neptune said. “Get guys that can shoot.” 

At the 5:07 mark, Armstrong added a dunk to punctuate the game and give the Wildcats a 14-point lead, 65-51. 

The first half ended in a stalemate with Villanova and Georgetown tied at 35. The Wildcats utilized typical Villanova offense for a late 6-0 scoring run in the first half. 

On the first three from Slater, senior guard Chris Arcidiacono used a shot fake from the right wing, whipped it across to Daniels, who threw it to Slater for the corner three at the 1:27 mark. Daniels made his final first half 3-pointer with 56 seconds remaining, putting Villanova up, 35-33. 

In the first half, the Wildcats made 5-of-12 threes for 41.7%, and they were 11-of-28, good for 39.3% from the field.

A bright spot for the ‘Cats in the first half was Armstrong. He was a spark off the bench with three steals, eight points, an assist and a perfect 4-for-4 from the line. An example of his anticipatory defense occurred at the 4:08 mark when Armstrong looked like a cornerback jumping a route to pick off a pass behind the three-point line. The guard converted it into a dunk at the other end. 

Georgetown made its mark in the paint, punctuated with a ferocious dunk from Murray over sophomore guard Jordan Longino, who was attempting to draw a charge.

Murray led all scorers for the Hoyas with nine points in the first half. 

Spears had six assists in the first half along with five points.  

The Hoyas made 15 of their 31 shots from the field in the first half for 48.4%. They struggled from three, making only two threes out of 10. 

Whitmore struggled mightily in the first half as he tried to make his own offense. The freshman was blocked three times and only managed a 2-for-8 performance for four points in the half.

Dixon had to wait until the 5:29 mark to score his first points on a second chance opportunity lay-in.  

The Villanova win came at a cost. With just under two minutes remaining in the first half, Longino attempted to plant and could not move his left leg. He was carried off the floor and was ruled out for the rest of the game, although he was able to return to the bench in the second half.

Next up, Villanova will have another tough test in the team that just handed Connecticut its first loss, facing No. 18 Xavier. The game is set to begin at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Finneran Pavilion. The game can be viewed on Fox Sports 1.