The 6th ranked Villanova Wildcats wrapped up their regular season with a convincing 77-59 win over the Georgetown Hoyas at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon (March 8th). With the win, Villanova improved its record to 28-3, 16-2 Big East, and cemented their place as the outright Champion of the new Big East Conference (their first regular season Big East crown since 1982). The Wildcats played with what Coach Jay Wright described as “focus and maturity” to earn the victory.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 9-2 lead following a steal and dunk by Darrun Hilliard. The Hoyas twice narrowed the margin to one point, the last at 18-17 on a layup by D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera with 10:44 to go in the first half. Villanova then went on an 8-2 run to push the lead to 26-19 on a jumper by Kris Jenkins. Villanova’s lead ballooned to 15 on a four point play by Senior James Bell with under a minute to play before intermission. The half ended with Villanova ahead by a score of 42-29. The Wildcats had 9 steals and forced 10 Georgetown turnovers. To add to Georgetown’s woes, two of its key players, Jabil Trawick and Markel Starks, finished the half with 3 fouls apiece.
In the second half, the Wildcats continued to grind it out on both ends of the court. With 13:03 to go in the game, Villanova’s lead grew to 55-35 when Ryan Arcidiacono hit back-to-back treys. The lead eventually reached 21 (62-41) on a layup by Hilliard. Villanova retained its focus throughout the remainder of the game and ended up winning by its biggest margin of victory ever over Georgetown (in a Big East game) 77-59.
The Wildcats had five players score in double figures; Hilliard leading the way with 19 points. JayVaughn Pinkston added 13 points and a game-high 7 rebounds. Bell and Arcidiacono each had 11, and Jenkins finished with 10 points. Villanova hit 27 of its 53 field goal attempts (50.9%), including 7 of 15 attempts from distance (46.7%). The Wildcats foul shooting was erratic as they hit only 16 of 28 (57.1%). Villanova had 15 assists against 9 turnovers. Hilliard dished out 5 assists to lead Villanova. Villanova narrowly won the rebounding battle 31-30.
For Georgetown, Starks was the leading scorer with 20 points. Smith-Rivera ended up with 14, and Aaron Bowen chipped in 13. Smith-Rivera was the Hoyas top rebounder with 5. Georgetown, which had 10 assists, was forced into 18 turnovers by the aggressive Villanova defense. With the loss, Georgetown closed out its regular season with a 17-13 record, 8-10 Big East. The loss also put the Hoyas chance to play in the Big Dance in peril.
Villanova’s win was its 16th in the Big East this season, the most in a single season in program history. Next up for Villanova is the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. By virtue of claiming the outright regular season title, Villanova secured the number 1 seed in the tournament. Villanova will square off with the winner of Wednesday night’s Seton Hall vs. Butler game at Noon On Thursday, March 13 (Fox Sports 1). The winner of that game will advance to the semifinals on Friday night.
Of note, James Bell was named to the Big East first-team all conference, making him the first Villanova player to receive the honor since Scottie Reynolds (2010). Along with Bell the first team consisted of Georgetown’s Markel Starks, Creighton’s Dough McDermott, Providence’s Bryce Cotton, Semaj Christon of Xavier, and D’Angelo Harrison from St. John’s.
You can view the full post game press conference video, Big East Tournament bracket, and additional photos in the gallery below (click thumbnails to enlarge):