WASHINGTON – It’s safe to say Georgetown hadn’t seen an opponent like Villanova all season, definitely not during its soft non-conference schedule, and even in Big East play against NCAA locks like Seton Hall and Creighton.
The top-ranked Wildcats played as well at both ends of the court Wednesday night as they have all season, shooting 60 percent from the field, knocking down 17 three-point baskets and keeping the Hoyas from getting good looks in an 88-56 victory before 11,905 at Capital One Arena.
Villanova (17-1, 5-1 Big East) used an early 18-0 run to lead 42-20 at halftime, erased all doubt as to the outcome with an 18-2 spurt in the opening five minutes of the second half and stretched the margin to 44 points before Georgetown (12-6, 2-5) scored the game’s last 12 points.
It was the first time that Patrick Ewing matched up against Villanova as a head coach, nearly 33 years after Ewing and the heavily favored Hoyas lost to the Wildcats in the 1985 national championship game.
This time, it was a one-sided matchup of a veteran team led by a veteran coach against a first-year head coach with young players trying to find their way. Jay Wright said he didn’t think the score was “indicative of the difference in these teams.
“It’s just one of those nights where you make every shot and get a big lead and you’re a good free-throw shooting team, so what are you going to do?” the Villanova coach said. “I’m just happy to be on this side of it. I’ve been on the other side, so I feel for those guys.”
With freshman Collin Gillespie back in the lineup after missing eight games with a broken bone in his left hand, the Wildcats played their 1-2-2 zone press more. That forced the Hoyas to use up a lot of time on the shot clock just to get into their offense.
“I had the confidence we could press because we had the extra body,” Wright said. “Like in a game like this … if we went into the game with seven guys, we wouldn’t have pressed. And it worked out great.”
Villanova limited Georgetown to 30.8 percent shooting in the first half and 39.3 percent for the game. The Cats forced 17 turnovers and held a 32-7 advantage in points off the miscues. Offensively, they placed six players in double figures.
Jalen Brunson led the way with 18 points and Mikal Bridges, who was limited to 18 minutes because of a sprained ankle suffered against St. John’s, added 17.
“It’s always fun when our team’s making shots,” Brunson said, “but I think the most impressive part of today was that we were also getting stops on the defensive end. That’s one area where we’re striving to be the best we can be. That’s been our mindset the past couple of weeks.”
Wright was complimentary of Ewing after the game, saying, “Patrick’s doing a great job with this program. They’re very organized. They know what they want to do, and he’s going to build this thing.”
Informed of Wright’s comment, Ewing said, “Well, he’s a good man.
“I’ve had my butt kicked before, fortunately it was as a player, and all I can do is get ready for the next one. You can’t dwell on it,” Ewing said.
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