‘Nova-rated: Hoyas blow out No. 4 Villanova to take first place in Big East

In similar fashion to what the Georgetown students did to the Verizon Center floor, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (13-5, 5-2 Big East) continued taking the Big East by storm Monday night as they defeated No. 4 Villanova (17-2, 4-2 Big East) resoundingly, 78-58, in front of a raucous crowd of 13,872 fans. The win, which marks the Hoyas’ fifth in their last six games, moves them into sole possession of first place in the Big East standings.

Leading 13-11 with 12:47 left in the first half, Georgetown embarked on a dominant 17-0 run to take a commanding 30-11 lead from which they never looked back, holding Villanova scoreless for a span of 7:20. The Hoyas’ extended their lead to as many as 26 early in the second half as the Wildcats never cut the lead to single digits for the remainder of the game.

“That was as good a defensive stretch as we’ve had in a very long time,” said Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III of his team’s 17-0 run. “I think our defense is what dictated the game throughout the game and got us to where we took that lead in the first half. When our offense got sluggish in the second half our defense held on.”

The Hoyas’ defense stifled Villanova throughout the game, especially in the first half. The Blue and Gray held the Wildcats to 27 percent shooting in the opening frame and 34 percent overall for the contest. Their staunch effort on the defensive end translated to the offensive end, where they converted 24 points off 17 Villanova turnovers.

“They say that defense translates to offense so obviously we kept them from scoring baskets and we got open shots on our end,” said freshman forward Isaac Copeland, who had a career- and game-high 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting. “That helped us out and it worked out.”

Senior guard Jabril Trawick spearheaded Georgetown’s defensive effort, which held the potent Wildcats’ offense to their lowest point total of the entire season. Along with scoring 10 points, the Philadelphia native had two blocks and tied a career-high with four steals, helping the Hoyas get their first win over the Wildcats since February 2012.

“I know that we needed to get a win against them,” said Trawick after the game. “It had been a while since we beat them, and so that was just the mindset, we just wanted to get this win because we knew it was a big game for us.”

Thompson had nothing but praise after the game for Trawick, who he believes is playing his best basketball as of late.

“(Jabril) made it happen. His effort, his energy, he’s getting beat up out there and he comes in, not necessarily scoring baskets, but making plays at the defensive end, on the boards, making passes at the offensive end,” said Thompson. “It’s two outstanding games in a row. It was a selfless game making plays that might not show up on this sheet right here.

Along with Copeland Trawick, senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led a well-balanced scoring effort by the Hoyas, as five players notched eight or more points, scoring 17 points each. Senior center Joshua Smith scored 9 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds while freshman forward Paul White and freshman guard L.J. Peak also added nine and eight points, respectively. The Blue and Gray neophytes were just as much a part of the blowout victory as the team’s veterans, something that does not surprise Trawick.

“This was expected out of them as soon as they got on campus,” said Trawick of the freshmen’s play. “You guys asked us about them earlier and I told everyone that they were capable of playing big for us and that’s what they’re doing right now.”

Villanova junior guard Ryan Arcidiacono led the way for the Wildcats in their losing effort with 16 points, off 5-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-6 made three-pointers. Other Arcidiacono’s shooting, there was not much else that Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright found to be satisfactory in his team’s effort.

“They just played a lot better than us tonight,” said Wright after the game. “I don’t know exactly the reason that we weren’t as sharp as we normally are on our end.”

Although the rivalry between the two teams has boasted some memorable close games over the years, Monday’s night game certainly wasn’t one of them.

“Not much of a rivalry right now,” said Wright following the loss. “We have got to see what we do against them next time. (We have) got to see if we can get those tough games, close games. They kicked us pretty good tonight.”

And as if the Wildcats were not humiliated enough, the whole Georgetown student section opted to storm the court after the game, creating a post-game frenzy that made it difficult for players and coaches to exit the court safely. Although the win marked the first time that the Hoyas defeated a team ranked No. 4 or higher in the AP Poll in the regular season since February 2010, when the Hoyas bested then-No. 2 Villanova at home, Thompson did not agree with the celebratory actions.

“The kids, the fans, the students watch a lot of TV. They’re excited so they storm the court,” said Thompson. “I probably wish that they hadn’t done that.”

The Hoyas hope to continue their strong play and extend their three-game winning streak when they travel to face Marquette (10-7, 2-3 Big East) this Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is slated for 2:30p.m. The Blue and Gray will look to the complete season sweep, as they defeated the Golden Eagles earlier this month at Verizon Center, 65-59, on Jan. 6.

Photo: Georgetown University

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