What a difference three days makes.
After getting upset by South Florida in front of a relatively quiet crowd on Wednesday, No. 7 Georgetown dominated No. 2 Villanova 103-90 in front of a raucous 10,387 fans that braved the blizzard-like conditions in Washington, D.C.
The Hoyas (17-5, 7-4 Big East) handed the Wildcats (20-2, 9-1) their first conference loss and snapped their 11-game winning streak.
Junior guard Austin Freeman led all scorers with 25 points, and sophomore guard Jason Clark added a career-high 24 as the Hoyas collected 39 points from the free throw line, a record against a Big East opponent. Villanova committed 38 fouls as it pressed for much of the second half, sending Georgetown to the line 50 times, including 37 in the second half.
Clark led a barrage of three-pointers in the first half, connecting on all four he attempted in the half, and the Hoyas built a 50-31 halftime lead.
“They jumped on us, and they’re a very difficult team to play behind against,” Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said. “You’re down 19 to a team that spreads the floor out [and] holds the ball anyways.”
Clark hit two straight threes and converted an old fashioned three-point play to give the Hoyas a 34-23 lead at the 5:30 mark to 43-25 with 4:12 to play.
“I think it was after the first couple,” Clark said about when he knew he was hot from the field. “You get that groove in you, and you feel like you can’t miss.”
Villanova committed 16 turnovers in the first half. Despite pressing for the entire second half the Wildcats could never cut the lead to single digits after falling behind by as many as 23 in the first.
Georgetown shot 56.3 percent from the field and connected on 10-of-19 three pointers.
The Wildcats cut the Hoyas’ lead to 10 on a free throw from Reynolds that capped a 12-3 run with 5:16 to play in the game, but the Hoyas blocked the Wildcats the next two times down the floor. Georgetown hit 14-of-18 free throws in the game’s final 3:08 to seal the win.
The Hoyas went to Greg Monroe for an easy two on the first possession of the game, and the sophomore center finished the day with 19 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the free throw line to go with eight rebounds and six assists.
Junior point guard Chris Wright fouled out with seven points and three assists. It was just the second time the Hoyas have won in the seven games Wright has been held under 10 points.
Much to the delight of the fans that braved the cold and snow, the Hoyas’ offense was red hot all day. The 50 first half points were the most Georgetown had scored in any half of the season until they posted 53 in the second half. It was the first time that Georgetown scored 100 points in a Big East regular season game that did not go into overtime since 1996.
The crowd cracked five digits – though it was technically a sell-out because every ticket in the 20,173 seat arena was sold – and the student section was fuller than Wednesday’s loss to South Florida.
“It was unbelievable,” Thompson said of the crowd. “It was, if you’ve been listening to all the reports, the worst storm since the Knickerbocker storm in the 1920s. For everyone to come out, it’s truly appreciated.”
Thompson and the players thanked the student section before and after the game for making the trek from campus. The team stayed at a hotel last night to be able to get to the arena on time.
The Wizards game scheduled for Saturday night was postponed because neither the Wizards nor the Hawks could fly into town.
The Hoyas refused to say that today’s victory – the second over a top-10 opponent in eight days – was a statement win.
“Every game is important. In the end, is this game going to be more important than the game we have next? It’s a league game,” Thompson said when asked of the win’s significance. “Every team is well coached, every team is extremely talented. The significance was we won.”
Three weeks ago, the Hoyas fell behind the Wildcats by 15 at halftime on Villanova’s home floor and lost 82-77.
“I said this when we played them up [in Philadelphia]. I think they’re as good as anyone in our league,” Wright said.
Guards Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher led Villanova with 24 points apiece, but Reynolds missed 11 shots and turned the ball over six times.
Villanova now must navigate the snow on their way out of Washington to Morgantown for a Big Monday game against West Virginia.
The Hoyas will travel to Providence on Tuesday for a matchup against the Friars.
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