While offensive statistics and fast break basketball are most likely to excite the fans, sometimes it takes some good, old-fashioned defense to bring home a win.

Georgetown (12-11, 2-8 Big East) finally ended a six-game losing streak on Saturday with its defeat of a struggling Villanova team (7-15, 1-8) at home, 54-51. Coming off of three blowout losses, the Hoyas needed something to wash away the taste of defeat, and it was evident from early on that it was not going to be an offensive explosion.

“We just went in with Villanova and focused on our defense,” Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We just did that so we wouldn’t be focused on our losing streak. We had to find something else that we could concentrate on.”

Going into the game, the Hoyas, who found strength in their defense earlier in the season, had given up at least 69 points in each of their last five games. For their part, the Wildcats’ spread-the-floor offense was ranked dead last in the league, averaging 57 points per game.

Georgetown played to Villanova’s weakness and allowed the Wildcats only eight first-half field goals on 24 attempts, taking a 29-23 halftime lead thanks to a balanced offensive attack.

Georgetown was judicious in three-point shot selection, sinking five of seven long balls in the first 20 minutes of play. The offense, while not prolific, was efficient, recording assists on seven of 10 field goals.

Freshman forward Meredith Cox scored eight points, including two three-pointers, and junior forward Kieraah Marlow had four points. Seven different Hoyas scored.

In response to Villanova’s offensive sets, Georgetown departed from its usual tactics and played man-to-man defense for the majority of the game.

“We don’t normally play [zone],” Williams-Flournoy said. “I thought we had been a little too lackadaisical playing in our zone. Going against Villanova, it’s pretty hard to sit back in a zone because that’s what they want you to do.”

With 169 three-point field goals entering the game, Villanova is second in the conference and typically looks to capitalize on open looks offered by zone defenses. But the Wildcats were cold in the first half, allowing Georgetown’s feeble offense to take a lead.

Instead of allowing themselves to be closed out of the contest in the second half, the Wildcats put their paw in the door. Sophomore center Lisa Karic hit a three-pointer two and a half minutes into the second half to tie the score.

From there, Georgetown would stretch its lead to nine on two separate occasions, but the advantage was precarious. Villanova always seemed to be one momentum-changing play away from retaking the lead.

Georgetown left its lead in jeopardy by missing 11 of 12 three-point attempts and going just 9-of-24 from the field. Like West Virginia did in their Jan. 27 win over Georgetown, Villanova collapsed on the Hoyas’ inside scoring options, forcing Georgetown to shoot – and miss – more jump shots.

“In the second half I thought we should have went inside a little more,” Williams-Flournoy said. “But they were packing it in quite a bit and trying to stop our inside game.”

Villanova, on the other hand, played well enough to stay within reach and capitalized on a Georgetown mishap in the final minute. Leading by seven with 26 seconds remaining, the Hoyas needed to do little more than play conservatively to escape with a win.

Junior guard Kristin Heidloff gave Villanova a chance with 11 seconds remaining, fouling freshman guard Maria Getty on a layup. Getty converted the three-point play to cut the lead to four.

After a Cox free throw, the Wildcats scored a quick two to give Georgetown a three-point lead with three seconds remaining.

Sophomore center Katrina Wheeler, who played well with six points and 10 rebounds, sent the ensuing inbounds past Villanova’s way, and junior forward Stacie Witman sent a last-second shot toward the rim but came up short.

With the win, the Hoyas are 14th in the conference and must catch Cincinnati (12-10, 3-7) for a place in the conference tournament. Georgetown’s schedule will not be easy – its remaining opponents are a combined 83-52 (.610).

Georgetown visits Seton Hall (13-8, 5-5) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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