WASHINGTON (AP) — When the shots weren’t falling and things were getting tense for No. 6 Villanova, coach Jay Wright turned to his upperclassmen who have been through it all. They didn’t disappoint him.
Junior guard Josh Hart scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season, and senior Ryan Arcidiacono scored nine of his 15 points in the final minutes as the Wildcats survived a scare to beat Georgetown 55-50 on Saturday for their 21st consecutive Big East victory.
Villanova went 5:39 between field goals in the second half and had just one in the final 8 minutes. The Wildcats got tough on defense and made free throws to pull away.
“That’s how you have to win on the road,” said. “That’s how you’ve got to gut it out. It’s just not going to be pretty in this league.”
Villanova (16-2, 6-0) might win ugly, but it gets the job done in conference play. Its last Big East loss came Jan. 19, 2015, at Verizon Center, which proved to be a hostile environment again Saturday.
Wright downplayed the Big East streak, but it says something about Villanova’s consistency.
“It just means we’ve come to play every single game that we’ve played,” said Arcidiacono, who made seven of his eight free throws. “We’re not really focused on if we’re undefeated or if we’re 3-3 or 4-2 or anything like that. That just means we’ve come to play every single time.”
The Wildcats had to come to play against Georgetown (11-7, 4-2), which stayed in the game despite a rash of mistakes, foul trouble and ice-cold shooting. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 15 points for the Hoyas and Isaac Copeland added 11, including a big 3-pointer late in the second half.
Villanova freshman Mikal Bridges held Smith-Rivera to just five points in the second half and 6-of-14 shooting for the game.
“We knew he has the ability to just go off,” Wright said of Smith-Rivera, Georgetown’s leading scorer this season. ”(Bridges) is only a freshman and he loves to defend. He’s really long, he’s got some great mobility and we put him on some really good players. Smith-Rivera is probably one of the best and I thought he did a great job on him.”
Georgetown shot 32.7 percent from the field, something coach John Thompson III credited Villanova for. It wasn’t easy for the Hoyas to go inside.
“They were just being ultra-aggressive like they like always are,” Smith-Rivera said. “Part of it was we had some shots that we usually make that didn’t go in, and part of it was they packed the paint.”
And the Wildcats made their shots when it counted, most notably Hart and Arcidiacono.
“I think our experience carried us through,” Wright said.
Villanova: Forward Daniel Ochefu was in the starting lineup despite dealing with a bruised tailbone and the flu. ... The Wildcats made nine of their final 10 free throws after starting 7 for 12.
Georgetown: The Hoyas fell to 1-3 this season against ranked opponents. They beat then-No. 14 Syracuse at home Dec. 5. ... Georgetown held a pregame moment of silence for former Butler player Andrew Smith, who died of cancer Tuesday at the age of 25.
Villanova travels to Seton Hall on Wednesday.
Georgetown travels to No. 7 Xavier on Tuesday.