No. 9 Georgetown 62, Villanova 57
NEW YORK (AP)—After breezing through the first half, the Georgetown Hoyas weren’t expecting to sweat it out against Villanova in the last few minutes.
“I’m glad our guys held on,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “It was coming too easily. We just had to refocus.”
Roy Hibbert scored eight of his 14 points in No. 9 Georgetown’s opening 26-2 run, and the Hoyas held on for a 62-57 victory Thursday over ninth-seeded Villanova in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.
A rested Georgetown (24-6), the tournament’s top seed, came out shooting, and a weary-looking Villanova couldn’t find the basket early. The Wildcats (22-10) made a game of it in the closing minutes, but the huge first-half deficit was too much to overcome.
“I don’t think we did anything wrong at the start of the game or throughout the game, really,” Villanova forward Curtis Sumpter said. “We just had a couple of bad possessions and Georgetown just took advantage of them.”
DaJuan Summers got things started with a 3-pointer 2:22 in and the Hoyas kept going from there. Georgetown was up 14-0 before Sumpter finally got Villanova on the scoreboard with a jumper 7:20 into the game.
The Hoyas followed with a 12-0 run to go up 26-2 at 9:28 on Jeff Green’s layup, and opened leads to as big as 25 points three times.
“I think we were just a little better at it, and they were a little off to start,” Thompson said.
Green, the Big East player of the year, added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Hoyas, who shot 42.6 percent (23-of-54) and have won 13 of 14. They advanced to play 20th-ranked Notre Dame (24-6), which beat Syracuse 89-83.
Sumpter scored 18 points for Villanova, which had its four-game winning streak end. The Wildcats just couldn’t get their offense going in the first half — shooting 27 percent (6-of-22) compared to the Hoyas’ 57 percent (16-of-28).
“You just try to tell them it’s a long game, there’s a lot of time left,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “They went on a big run and we’ve just got to keep playing our game. You know, you don’t try to make it any big deal.”
The teams played close games in their two earlier meetings, which Villanova won at Georgetown in early January and the Hoyas won on the road last month.
“Before the game, one of the coaches said we owed them one,” Hibbert said. “They beat us on our court. That got us going.”
Trailing 37-18 at halftime, the Wildcats came out for the second half more energized. Villanova cut a 22-point deficit late in the first half to 10 with a 14-2 run, capped by Scottie Reynolds’ 3-pointer 5:19 in.
After falling behind again by 17, Villanova hung tough down the stretch and made the Hoyas and their fans a bit uneasy.
“We’ve been at it long enough to know that anything can happen,” Wright said.
Jessie Sapp made one of two free throws to give Georgetown a 56-45 lead with 1:43 left, but Villanova stormed back.
Trailing by six with 41 seconds left, Reynolds got open for a 3-point attempt, but missed.
“That would’ve blown the roof off the place and energized our guys,” Wright said. “That was the play. Not that we quit, but that was our chance right there.”
But the Wildcats weren’t done just yet. Sumpter made two of three free throws with 27.9 seconds remaining to make it 59-54, the Wildcats’ lowest deficit since Hibbert’s layup that gave the Hoyas a 5-0 lead less than 4 minutes in.
But Georgetown wasn’t about to set another tournament record for the biggest blown halftime lead—the Hoyas lost to Syracuse in last year’s semifinals after leading by 15.
Sapp made one of two free throws and Hibbert dunked before Sumpter hit a 3 as time expired.
“We got too tentative and started looking at the clock and trying to get the game over instead of playing,” Thompson said. “And all of a sudden, they are too good.”
The teams reversed offensive woes in the second half, with the Hoyas going just 7-of-25 (28 percent) from the field, while the Wildcats were 13-of-29 (44.8 percent). Villanova recovered from the dismal first half to finish 37.3 percent from the field, going 19-of-51 overall.
“We came out and played as hard as we possibly could in the second half,” center Will Sheridan said. “Our pride was at stake.”
Villanova senior guard Mike Nardi, sidelined for most of the DePaul game after injuring his left ankle last Saturday against Syracuse, played a little more in this one, but wasn’t much of a factor on offense. He went scoreless and had two assists in 8 minutes.