January 20, 2015
WASHINGTON — Georgetown beat Villanova — ranked No. 4 in the country — to move into first place in the Big East, a victory some students deemed worthy of a court-storming.
Coach John Thompson III felt it was a bit over the top.
"The kids, the fans, the students watch a lot of TV, so they're excited, they storm the court," Thompson said. "Yeah, I probably wish they hadn't done that."
That said, the rush of humanity following Monday night's 78-58 win wasn't close to the endless sea of bobbing heads that has accompanied some of the Hoyas' landmark victories at the Verizon Center. After all, this was a regular season game against a familiar rival.
Still, it was a big result — one that will likely put Georgetown back into the Top 25. The Hoyas took it to the Wildcats in an old-fashioned, push-and-shove match worthy of the conference's legacy of physical play, forcing 17 turnovers and holding Villanova to 34 percent shooting.
"That's a team that puts you in a bind in so many ways, and they had an off night," Thompson said. "We had a lot to do with them having an off night, but they weren't at their best tonight."
Freshman Isaac Copeland, whose 3-pointer in the final seconds beat Butler on Saturday, scored a career-high 17 points against the Wildcats, and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera also had 17 for the Hoyas (13-5, 5-2), who pulled away early with a 17-0 run on the way to a 42-20 halftime lead. Georgetown shot 60 percent in the first half and 51 percent for the game to move one-half game ahead of Villanova (17-2, 4-2).
Ryan Arcidiacono scored 16 points for the Wildcats, including three 3-pointers that helped cut the second-half deficit from 26 to 12. The score was 62-50 with eight minutes remaining, but the Hoyas responded with a 6-0 run capped by a long jumper from Copeland.
"We played a team that we couldn't overcome," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We've done this before, got down, got a little sloppy offensively, and we've been able to overcome it. This team is too good, this atmosphere was too good, to overcome playing like that."
The teams combined to commit 50 fouls, with multiple bodies crashing onto the floor on multiple occasions. Villanova's Daniel Ochefu fouled out with 4:13 to play and only four points to his credit — quite the climbdown from his career-high 21 against Penn on Saturday.
Villanova's only previous loss this season came in overtime against Seton Hall, but the Wildcats couldn't find an open look against the Hoyas' defense in the first half. JayVaughn Pinkston literally had the ball stolen out of his hands by Jabril Trawick, leading to a 3-pointer by Smith-Rivera in transition. Ochefu missed layups in traffic. In the first possession out of a timeout, Pinkston drove baseline and stepped out of bounds.
The Wildcats went more than seven minutes without a point as the Hoyas built a 30-11 lead.
"Losing was not a surprise," Wright said. "The way we played was a surprise."
Not surprisingly, both coaches touted the result as an example of parity in the Big East.
"I don't like it tonight," Wright said. "But tomorrow I like it a lot."
Villanova: In their previous two wins, the Wildcats had assists on 44 of 51 field goals. On Monday, they had just eight assists on 14 buckets. ... Other horror stories from the stat sheet included 2-for-10 shooting from 3-point range in the first half, and just two fast-break points for the entire game.
Georgetown: Villanova's second-half comeback attempt came while Trawick sat out for several minutes after getting hit in the eye. Asked what he thought when the lead was cut to 12, Thompson answered: 'The mindset was, 'Let's get Jabril back into the game.'" ... Smith-Rivera was selected as the Big East player of the week on Monday.
Villanova: Hosts Creighton on Sunday.
Georgetown: Visits Marquette on Saturday.