It was a date that was set up months before the season began. Two rivals from the original Big East set to meet again to close out the inaugural season of the new Big East. Although, it may have lost some luster due to the fact that Georgetown was projected to be one of the top teams in the nation, now they’re fighting to get a foot in the door to the Big Dance. Villanova on the other hand has enjoyed a spectacular season that no one had really seen coming. Even though it wasn’t the main event it was supposed to be, the game still meant a lot to those who had ties to Villanova and Georgetown.
Georgetown came fresh off of a big win over the sharpshooting Creighton Bluejays. Their stars came up big and their defense made key stops. This time around, the Hoyas struggled to get things going. The Wildcats were able to force 10 turnovers in the first half alone. Villanova started off with a 12-5 lead in the opening minutes of the game. It got a little better for the Hoyas, as they would climb back into the game and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera layup with 10:45 left would bring the game to within one. Unfortunately, it came at a price for Georgetown. Jabril Trawick picked up three fouls quickly in the first half, and was sent to the bench. Forward Nate Lubick, picked up a pair of fouls in a matter of seconds and his minutes were then limited. Shortly after the Hoyas were able to get back into the game, Markel Starks picked up his third foul and he would join the party on the bench. Georgetown was scrapping the bottom of the barrel for players to take the floor in place of their foul troubled starters. Villanova would take advantage. Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins shined in the first half. The freshmen duo combined for 13 of Villanova’s 15 bench points. Both played hard, doing a little of everything. Making their free throws, playing good defense, grabbing rebounds, and ultimately scoring points. Later in the half with just under a minute to go, James Bell sunk a three pointer from the corner, he was fouled as he shot the ball. Bell would sink the ensuing free throw, completing the four point play. Even though the Hoyas would make a higher percentage of their shots, the Wildcats took a 42-29 lead into the half.
In the second half, the Wildcats continued to roll through the Hoyas. With their numbers down and their players in foul trouble, they had to sag off a bit defensively and the Wildcats drilled shots like they were in practice. For the Wildcats, the love was spread across the floor. Everyone got more involved offensively. Darrun Hilliard did a little of everything on offense, attacking the basket and dishing dimes. Ryan Arcidiacono sunk three baskets from long range, including back-to-back threes from the corner. Villanova held onto the double digit lead for the rest of the way, their work in the beginning setting the pace for the ending. They did not let up. There was a scary moment with about seven and a half minutes left in which Dylan Ennis drove to the basket and hit the ground hard after attempting a layup. The crash echoed in the Wells Fargo Center, he would exit the game, hopefully he will be okay. The Wildcats would be able to stretch the lead to 20 points, their highest of the game. They cruised to the end of the regular season, beating Georgetown 77-59.
For Villanova, five different players put up double digits in scoring. Hilliard led the way once again, finishing with 19 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists. JayVaughn Pinkston had 17 points and grabbed 7 boards. Arcidiacono and Bell finished with 11 a piece. Jenkins provided 10 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.
For the Hoyas, Starks was the high scorer of the day with 20 points. Smith-Rivera was able to dodge foul trouble and had a 14 point, 5 rebound game. Aaron Bowen chipped in 13 points and 4 rebounds from the bench.
The Wildcats finish the regular season 28-3. They have the regular season title and the #1 seed for the Big East tournament on lock.