Villanova knocks off No. 5 Georgetown, 67-57

Georgetown's Markel Starks tries to drive between Villanova's Mouphtaou Yarou (left) and Tony Chennault. The Wildcats scored 24 points off 23 Hoya turnovers. MICHAEL PEREZ / Associated Press
Georgetown's Markel Starks tries to drive between Villanova's Mouphtaou Yarou (left) and Tony Chennault. The Wildcats scored 24 points off 23 Hoya turnovers. MICHAEL PEREZ / Associated Press (MICHAEL PEREZ / Associated Press)
Posted: March 07, 2013

After seeing its NCAA hopes on life support following disheartening back-to-back losses, Villanova came face-to-face with arguably the hottest team in the nation Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center and returned to the hunt for a coveted bid.

The Wildcats got to the free-throw line at will against fifth-ranked Georgetown; forced 23 turnovers; kept Big East player of the year candidate Otto Porter from taking over the game; and notched their third victory this season over a top-five team, a 67-57 win over the Hoyas.

In their regular-season finale, the Wildcats (19-12, 10-8 Big East) broke Georgetown's 11-game winning streak and picked up their fourth win against a top-25 team.

They also came up with the seemingly magic 10th Big East victory, the number that usually has meant an NCAA invitation. More than 94 percent of teams that have won 10 league games have seen their names on the bracket.

And now, with one week left until the Big East tournament and 11 days until Selection Sunday, the Wildcats wait, a little bit happier than they were after losses to Seton Hall and Pittsburgh, two games that they led in the final minute of regulation.

"After the Pitt game, after the Seton Hall game, I know [the players] all had to go home and hear everybody say, 'Ah, you're out of the tournament, you blew it,' " Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "They really kept a great focus. Any time we're together and practicing, they're focused. To come in and play like this . . . I've got a lot of respect for these young guys."

So is his team in?

"I just think given where everything is right now, I think we would be," he replied. "But we also know we're close enough that things could happen, too. I think we're in a good spot right now."

The Wildcats, who lead the Big East in points off free throws with nearly 19 per game, outscored the Hoyas (23-5, 23-4) by an astonishing 26 points from the line, converting 30 of 42 attempts to 4 of 8 for the visitors. They also recorded 15 steals and scored 24 points off Hoyas turnovers.

The free throws came in handy. Villanova tallied just one field goal in the final 14 minutes, 18 seconds of the game, a three-point basket by Darrun Hilliard with 5:43 to play for a 54-48 lead. Two free throws by Ryan Arcidiacono made it an eight-point game.

Georgetown got as close as four at the 2:49 mark but no closer. Villanova scored its last 11 points, in 12 attempts, from the foul line, with JayVaughn Pinkston making four to finish with a team-high 20 points.

Porter, who finished with 17 points, was guarded by four Wildcats and saw occasional double teams. He scored eight straight points midway through the second half to bring the Hoyas to within one, but did not score in the final 9:13.

"We really respect his ability to take over a game," Wright said. "So I thought we did a very good job."

Georgetown committed 27 fouls to Villanova's 12 and had three players foul out. Coach John Thompson III said he didn't think he had ever been part of a game in which there was such a difference in fouls.

Asked what he thought of it, Thompson responded: "I'll keep my issues to myself."


'Nova's Knack

Villanova's wins over top-5 teams this season:

Jan. 22: Beat No. 5 Louisville, 73-64.

Jan. 26: Beat No. 3 Syracuse, 75-71 (OT).

March 6: Beat No. 5 Georgetown, 67-57.


Contact Joe Juliano at jjuliano@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @joejulesinq

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