Wildcats grit-and-grind win over Georgetown



Rachel Bleier

Josh Hart led the Wildcats (16-2, 6-0) with 15 points and 12 rebounds, capitalizing on a cold-shooting, mistake-laden rival and surviving their own cold-shooting in the second half to eke out a 55-50 victory over Georgetown.

Josh Hart started the game off well for the Wildcats, stealing Georgetown’s opening possession and finishing the play with a slam-dunk to give the Cats the early lead. However, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera would score the next five points, on his way to a 15 point, 4 rebound performance. Smith-Rivera’s offensive attack gave the Hoyas its largest lead of the game of three points.

Despite shooting only 1-8 from three-point range, the Wildcats took advantage of the inside, shooting 10-17. By driving to the basket and cutting down the baseline, Hart created offensive opportunities. Toward the end of the first half, Smith-Rivera cut the Cats’ lead to 4 with a deep three, but Hart responded immediately putting the Cats back up by 6.

Hart and Arcidiacono lead the scoring with 6 points each at the break, while Smith-Rivera had 10 of the Hoyas’ 22 points in the first half. Good defense and decent rebounding helped the Cats end the first half up 26-22.

‘Nova started the second half with a 7-1 run, during which Hart continued to create offense and Kris Jenkins hit a rare three-pointer. The Wildcats extended their lead to 10 for most of the second half because of bad shooting on both ends. With just under seven minutes to play, Georgetown’s field goal percentage was just 28.6%, while Villanova’s field goal percentage dropped from 55% to just above 40%.

Villanova’s shooting woes also extended to its foul shots, with the team shooting just 16-22, and missing shots when they seemed to count the most. Jalen Brunson was only 2-5 from the line, and Jenkins missed his only free throw.

The Wildcats seemed to put the game away with two minutes left to play with a score of 48-40, but Smith-Rivera and Reggie Cameron hit back-to-back threes to bring the Hoyas back within a single possession. Arcidiacono missed a three on the next play, but Jessie Govan immediately turned the ball over.

Earlier this week, Head Coach Jay Wright said on ESPN SportsCenter that “We’re not playing great, but we’re playing together,” foreshadowing the team’s rough performance against Georgetown today.

The Cats survived a shaky shooting performance to improve to 6-0 in the Big East. It has now been nearly a year since the Wildcats have lost a game in the Big East.