No. 23 Villanova 67, Georgetown 56
WASHINGTON (AP)—Three times in the second half, Georgetown got within hailing distance of Villanova. Only once did coach Jay Wright feel the need to call a timeout to settle his team.
The 23rd-ranked Wildcats are a team on a roll in every facet, working together to handle adversity and push it aside. They won their fifth straight game Sunday, beating the Hoyas 67-56 by shutting down one of the Big East’s top freshmen and getting an inside boost from a sophomore nicknamed “Bump.”
Will Sheridan scored a season-high 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds, supplementing 18 points from Allan Ray and 12 points and seven assists from Kyle Lowry to move Villanova (19-6, 9-5) into sole possession of fourth place in the conference.
“We know that Will Sheridan has been invaluable to us all year. He’s done all the little things,” Wright said. “We’ve been trying to get him to assert himself offensively. He’s such a team player he always acquiesces to the other guys. We’ve been trying to convince him that you’re going to make them better by making the other team guard you, and that’s what he did today.”
Sheridan, who’s been called “Bump” since childhood, was 6-of-9 from the field and had three steals. He was a steady force early when neither team was making outside shots. He said he’s just getting into the flow of being a starter after serving as a self-described “energy guy” off the bench last year.
“It just took a while to adjust to the starting position,” Sheridan said. “When you come off the bench, you get a chance to get a feel for the game. When you start, you have to set the tone.”
Villanova held freshman Jeff Green to five points, matching his season-low, and put another dent in the NCAA tournament hopes of Georgetown (16-9, 8-6). The Hoyas have lost three straight and likely need at least two more victories to have a realistic shot at their first NCAA bid since 2001.
“For this group, we’re in uncharted waters in that we have important games this time of year,” first-year coach John Thompson III said. “It’s not over. The Connecticut game is important. The Providence game is important. The (Big East) tournament is important. We’re fighting here, we’re scrapping, we’re still in the mix, and you lose. It’s extremely disappointing.”
Villanova’s victory avenged a 66-64 home loss on Jan. 15, the day the Wildcats celebrated the 20th anniversary of the stunning upset over the Hoyas in the 1985 NCAA final. Some of the Villanova fans who made the trip Sunday chanted “85” and “N-I-T” in the closing minutes. The Wildcats have never lost in five games at the MCI Center.
The Wildcats did not shoot well—Ray went 5-for-17 and Randy Foye was 3-for-11—but their defense did more than enough. Green, one of the favorites for Big East rookie of the year, took just one shot in the first half and finished 1-for-5 from the field.
“They decided not to let Jeff touch the ball,” Thompson said. “We could not get him the ball. And when he did get it, they doubled and sometimes tripled him right away. Even before he had the ball a lot of times, he was doubled. Because of that, we had shots. Guys were open, the ball just didn’t go in.”
Brandon Bowman, the Hoyas’ only player in double figures, scored 22 points and fouled out in the final minute. Georgetown shot 28 percent in the first half and 34 percent for the game.
The Hoyas have struggled in the first half all season, and Sunday was no exception. They started 2-for-10 from the field with four turnovers in the first 9 minutes. They were 1-for-10 from 3-point range before Darrel Owens hit two in the final 2 minutes to keep the half from being a complete embarrassment.
That started a run of 3-pointers that continued into the second half. Georgetown cut the lead to six, eight and six at various times, but the Wildcats always found a way to respond—and they no longer need timeouts to tell them how.
“Now they just know,” Wright said. “They know it’s coming. They know they’re going to respond, and they have confidence that they will respond.”
Lowry started his second straight game in place of point guard Mike Nardi, who sprained an ankle in practice last week and is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Seton Hall. Curtis Sumpter, who tweaked a knee injury in the last few days, added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats.