Wildcats anihilate rival Hoyas



Pat Ralph

After getting blown out by Georgetown in D.C. a few weeks back, Villanova bounced back with a strong 69-53 win over the Hoyas this past Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly. 

“They looked like we did in the last game and we looked like they did,” said Head Coach Jay Wright after the game.

Senior guard Darrun Hilliard led the way for the ’Cats with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and four assists, while sophomore guard Josh Hart poured in 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Senior forward JayVaughn Pinkston led the Wildcats on the glass with eight boards, while also scoring in 10 points.

If you watched the game, you should have seen two distinct differences in the Wildcats from other games this season. First off, the ’Cats broke out a fresh set of throwback home jerseys from the 1985 national championship season. 

Secondly, and most importantly, Wright went with a four-guard set to start the game due to a minor academic infraction by junior center Daniel Ochefu which kept him out of the starting lineup. 

While the four-guard starting lineup gave fans a flashback to some other great times in the program’s history, the Wildcats’ strong start to the contest set the tone for how the game would go. 

“What we wanted to do was set the tone,” junior Dylan Ennis said after the contest. “The difference in this game was that we took it personal to set the tone defensively. We hit our shots, but when we play with that defensive intensity we hit our stride.”    

Villanova won this game with defense, as the ’Cats held Georgetown to a poor 30 percent from the field in the contest. Even worse, the Hoyas shot 5.6% (1-of-18) from 3-point land. 

Along with doing a fantastic job at both making the Hoyas take tough shots and running Georgetown off the 3-point line, Villanova’s defense forced Georgetown into 15 turnovers on the day which ultimately led to 24 points. Villanova also had five blocks in the contest, including three from Ennis. 

The Wildcats’ strong defensive performance ultimately led to many scoring opportunities, and the ’Cats were automatic from beyond the arc. The Wildcats have a tendency to be very 3-point happy, and on Saturday they were rewarded for this habit. 

Villanova shot 50 percent from 3-point land on the day, with the sophomore duo of Hart and forward Kris Jenkins leading the way with three apiece. The revenge win over Georgetown had a lot of meaning for Hart and Jenkins as both consider the Washington, D.C. area to be home. 

Overall, the Wildcats shot an impressive 48 percent from the field. In addition, the Wildcats outscored Georgetown in fast break points, 11-4. 

“I thought during this game we were really focused, we created turnovers and got some easy baskets off those turnovers which kind of loosened up their defense,” Wright said to the media.

While Saturday’s win was the fourth straight for Villanova, it was far from being one of the Wildcats’ best performances this season. Georgetown may have turned the ball over 15 times, but the Wildcats coughed it up 20 times. 

Almost any team that turns the ball over 20 times is going to lose, but the Hoyas were only able to produce eight points off turnovers in the game. 

Another area in which the Wildcats struggled was on the glass, where Georgetown outrebounded Villanova 18-7 on the offensive boards. 

The ’Cats struggled to create second chance opportunities all day, as the Hoyas outscored the Wildcats in second chance points 15-11. In addition, Georgetown outscored Villanova, 24-18, in points in the paint. 

Going forward, the Wildcats must take better care of the basketball on the offensive end by cutting down on turnovers. Villanova was fortunate enough to get away with sloppy play this past Saturday, but that will not fly when March rolls around. 

Also, the Wildcats will need to make a concerted effort to control the offensive glass and create more second chance opportunities.  

“Overall I was proud of the effort and our defense,” Wright said in the postgame press conference. “We were sloppy offensively but we can get better there. I am happy with the defense.”

Freshman forward L.J. Peak led the way for the Hoyas with 15 points and three steals, while senior forward Mikael Hopkins led Georgetown on the boards with seven rebounds. The Wildcats’ defense did a superb job of holding junior guard and Georgetown’s best player, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, to only two points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field and 0-of-4 from long range. 

Along with the team’s leading scorer Smith-Rivera, Georgetown big-man Joshua Smith was held to only seven points and two rebounds in the contest after bullying around Ochefu and Pinkston in the previous matchup this season.     

The win improved Villanova to 21-2 overall and 8-2 in Big East play, while the loss dropped Georgetown to 15-8 overall and 7-5 in conference games. Next up for the Wildcats is a red-hot Butler team which jumped back into the top 25 this week.