Georgetown upsets No. 17 Villanova to break losing streak against rival
During his playing career at Georgetown in the 1980s, Patrick Ewing went 7-3 against Villanova. Now, he can add his first win against the classic Big East rival as a coach.
In the biggest statement win of Ewing’s two seasons as coach, the Hoyas rolled No. 17 Villanova out of Capital One Arena Wednesday with a surprise 85-73 victory.
Georgetown (16-10, 6-7 Big East) had not beaten the Wildcats since Jan. 19, 2015, snapping a nine-game losing streak to Villanova. It was also the Hoyas’ first win over a Top 25 opponent in more than two years.
Freshman sensation Mac McClung led Georgetown in the first half and senior center Jessie Govan took over in the second. McClung finished with 21 points, with 17 of them in the first half.
Govan who was held scoreless the last time against Villanova went off for 21 points, with 15 coming in the second, and 11 rebounds.
Villanova (20-7, 11-3 Big East) lost its previous game at St. John’s, making this the Wildcats’ first set of back-to-back Big East losses since 2013.
With the Hoyas coming off two tough losses entering Wednesday, Ewing said he considered Wednesday “a must win.”
“We came out with a lot of energy, a lot of effort,” Ewing said. “Mac played the game extremely well, extremely hot, making his shots, driving. I thought that James (Akinjo) did an outstanding job of distributing the ball. Jessie did a great job of posting up real hard.”
Ewing praised his freshmen, particularly McClung and Akinjo (10 points, nine assists), saying, “Can’t look at those guys and call them freshmen anymore.”
On the other end of the spectrum, there was veteran leader Govan, who has been around long enough to see Georgetown beat each of its Big East opponents except Villanova, until Wednesday.
“They were the last team I hadn’t beaten in the Big East,” Govan said. “Feels good to check them off the list.”
Georgetown jumped ahead 15-8 early with an 8-0 run that featured 3-pointers from McClung and Akinjo. McClung made his first five field goal attempts with the first four coming from behind the arc.
Villanova picked up a Hoyas turnover and nearly scored on the other end, but Pickett deflected a pass for a steal and led a 3-on-2 fast break with some pretty passes and a Kaleb Johnson layup.
Jagan Mosely stuffed a shot by Villanova’s Phil Booth to force a shot-clock violation on the next possession, and everything seemed to be rolling Georgetown’s way. The Hoyas shot 51.7 percent from the floor in the first half and entered halftime leading 42-32.
Govan scored the Hoyas’ first eight points of the second half, and he and his teammates kept drawing fouls to keep control of the game.
The Hoyas led by as many as 19 points and limited Villanova’s main scoring options to just Booth and muscular forward Eric Paschall. Georgetown punctuated the result on a last-minute fastbreak: Jamorko Pickett fed the ball upcourt to Govan, who dunked it while posing with his free hand behind his head.
Johnson added eight points and eight rebounds for Georgetown and Pickett finished with seven points.
For Villanova, Booth led all scorers with 26 points and Paschall added 16.
Wildcats coach Jay Wright felt his team’s loss came down to details and playing smart basketball.
“First half, it’s a two-, four-point game. We dive on a loose ball, they dive on top of it,” Wright said. “Instead of us getting rid of it, it’s a jump ball. They get it back, they get a three. So just a lot of things like that, when you’re on the road, you can’t do. But you got to give Georgetown credit for making the plays. They made a lot of the right plays.”
The Hoyas will aim to create some positive momentum from this as they travel to Creighton Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. conference tilt, their first of five remaining regular-season games.
“We have to build on this. It can’t be just a one-game thing,” Ewing said. “We have five more games to go, and our dreams and our goals is to make the NCAA Tournament. We have to build on this and that will show how much we have grown, is to be able to build on this win. Can’t be happy with it.”