Sunday, January 17, 2010

#4 Wildcats Snap 5-Game Losing Streak to #11 Georgetown, Hold Off Hoyas' 2nd Half Rally to Prevail, 82-77, at the Wachovia Center

To the Wildcat faithful-

The #4 Wildcats held off a furious second-half rally by the #11 Georgetown Hoyas on Sunday at the Wachovia Center.  Scottie Reynolds poured in a game-high 27 points to lead Villanova, while Greg Monroe's career game - 29 points, 14 rebounds. three assists, three steals, and two blocks - wasn't enough to push a valiant comeback bid over the top, for the Hoyas.  Villanova had led 46-31 at halftime, but saw Georgetown rally to tie the score late in the second half, before clutch free throw shooting sealed the win in the waning seconds.

(This is the placeholder article - full story to come... please check back-)

Full story-

Over the years, the Villanova / Georgetown series has had its share of painful to watch, low-scoring affairs.  But such was not the case at the Wachovia Center on Sunday.

In a game which was marvellously entertaining, full of surprises and an unpleasantly suspenseful ending, the #4 Wildcats dominated play in the first half, coughed up a 15-point halftime lead, but held on by their claws for a thrilling 82-77 victory over #11 Georgetown.  Down the stretch, there were heroics at the foul line from Reynolds and freshman Maalik Wayns; the two point guards combined to go a perfect 8-8 from the line, during the last 36 seconds, securing the victory.

It was Villanova's first victory over the Hoyas since January 2007, snapping a five-game losing streak.

Villanova improved to 5-0 Big East, 15-1 overall; Georgetown fell to 4-2 Big East, 13-3 overall.  The two teams will meet once more this season, in a rare throwback to the pre-football-expansion Big East, at the Verizon Center on Saturday, February 6, at high noon.

Reynolds's 27 points made him - far and away - the offensive star for Villanova; he more than doubled the scoring total of any of his Wildcat teammates, and he did it in only 29 minutes.  But he wasn't the only hero.

The best overall day, apart from Reynolds, was from fellow senior Reggie Redding.  Redding scored 11 points on just 5-13 shooting, but he added six rebounds and five assists.  Wayns also scored 11 points, adding two rebounds and two assists, in addition to his 4-5 from the line.  Corey Fisher also struggled with his shot, going just 2-7 from the floor, but reached double figures with 10 points - plus two rebounds, three assists and three steals.

For Georgetown, Monroe's game was simply unbelievable.  Playing all but two minutes, Monroe's 29 points came on 9-13 shooting from the floor, 10-15 from the line, and making his only three-point attempt.  Austin Freeman was nearly as good, however.  Freeman played all but one minute, adding 22 points on 8-15 shooting, plus half a dozen assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals.  Jason Clark also played 39 minutes, scoring 16 points on 5-11 shooting, including 4-8 from three-point range, and grabbed five rebounds.

What was the key to victory for Villanova?


Jay Wright had an advantage that John Thompson III did not - namely, the ability to constantly substitute fresh players.  Eleven Wildcats saw action, with ten of them playing at least ten minutes.  In contrast, JT III had essentially a seven-man rotation.  Both teams became mired in foul trouble - a reason why the game took two and a half hours to complete.  But Villanova was better able to win the war of attrition, with its deeper and higher-scoring bench.

This is even more pronounced, when you consider how the team statistics were remarkably balanced - virtually identical, in fact.  Both teams were 33.3% from beyond the arc (9-27 for the Hoyas, 7-21 for the Wildcats).  They both took 61 field goal attempts - Villanova hitting 26 (42.6%) and Georgetown 24 (39.3%).  From the foul line, Villanova was 23-30 (76.7%), Georgetown was 20-27 (74.1%).  Villanova committed 27 fouls; Georgetown 25; both teams had 10 steals.  Villanova had an advantage in rebounding (44-38) and forced more turnovers (15-11), but they were the only real gaps statistically.

The game was particularly surprising, given that entering the game, all signs pointed to a close game throughout.  Villanova crushed Georgetown during the first half, opening up a wide, 46-31 lead at intermission, surprising even the most optimistic Wildcats partisans.  Clearly, Thompson made some adjustments at halftime, as the #11 Hoyas were the team that returned to the floor.  Georgetown managed to tie the game twice, although it never took the lead, and ultimately won the second half by ten points.

 The 20,000-strong crowd was very vocal in the first half, and provided some strong support as Villanova repelled the Georgetown counterattacks   Nonetheless, the game had the kind of feel to it, that the Hoyas might be able to deftly snatch victory from the jaws of defeat down the stretch, as Villanova had proven unable to decisively end the contest.

(I have to say that I did not like the black jerseys Georgetown was wearing, particularly since the school colors are blue and gray....  the ESPN+ broadcast identified them as blue, but they were black.  They'd be better off with dark navy, similar to Villanova's road color.)

Next Up for the Wildcats

The Wildcats head up the New Jersey Turnpike to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Wednesday, January 20.

And, of course, please check out the other fine Villanova blogs on the sidebar, for their respective takes on the victory...

Go Wildcats!



Anonymous said...

I did see this one. It is tough watching a big lead evaporate like but, but you know what? No one panicked.

Give G'town credit, too. They didn't panick at half time, either. Man, Monroe was unstoppable. At least we couldn't stop him.

I thought we took too many quick shots, a lot of them from three-point land, in second half. Hope we learn from it; we could get away with that with a big lead against a G'town team with no bench, but could be a problem down the line when the three's aren't falling.

Any win in BE is a win. A record of 16-1 is pretty nice. Haven't seen that for nearly 50 years. Not too much to complain about.


Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, Seamus-

Thanks for such a substantive comment. My thoughts:

Georgetown is one good team. After a poor first half, they really looked like the #11 team in the second half, and I thought JT III and Monroe were going to get them all the way back. They really gave us a battle in the second half.

I particularly agree on your point about the bench. If we didn't have the depth that we're fortunate to have, and all of these blue-chip players willing to accept fewer minutes, we'd have lost...

And of course, how we can be unhappy with 16-1?

Go Wildcats!