PHILADELPHIA | Georgetown found a postseason defibrillator at Wachovia Center.
The reeling Hoyas responded to premature talk of their demise with the team’s strongest defensive performance of the season, stifling No. 10 Villanova in a 56-54 victory.
The win moves the Hoyas, who had lost nine of their previous 11 games, from the dead pool back toward the periphery of the NCAA tournament discussion. Georgetown (15-12, 6-10 Big East) closes the regular season at St. Johns (Tuesday) and vs. DePaul (Saturday), a duo with a combined league record of 5-27. A potential 8-10 Big East finish coupled with a win or two in the conference tournament could earn Georgetown, which has four victories this season against top-20 teams, an NCAA tournament berth.
“We’ve played nine games against top-10 teams,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III, whose team held Villanova to season lows in field goal percentage (33.3 percent) and scoring. “I think at the end of the day, we’re going to be one of the best 65 teams, in spite of what’s happened in the last month. There’s no doubt about that. But the [NCAA selection] committee knows their job better than I know their job.”
Georgetown’s scrappy effort led to its fifth consecutive win over Villanova. The game featured no style points as both teams struggled offensively. Hoyas forward DaJuan Summers scored a game-high 16 points but committed a career-high eight turnovers. The Hoyas (25) and Wildcats (20) finished with season highs in turnovers. Both teams combined to shoot 7-for-32 from 3-point range, and they scored four points apiece in the game’s final 18 possessions.
But for the Hoyas, who had lost their five previous games decided by six points or fewer and have spent the last two months discovering new ways to lose just such games, Saturday was a thing of pure beauty.
“I don’t know, but I’ll take the win,” said Thompson about coaching a team to victory despite 25 turnovers.
The win represented another step in the development of Georgetown sophomore Chris Wright (13 points, five assists). The Bowie native again proved to be Georgetown’s most reliable performer.
Wright harassed Villanova slasher Scottie Reynolds into one of the junior guard’s worst results of the season. Reynolds shot 2-for-10 from the field with six turnovers. Wright also handled Villanova’s combination of presses and traps with aplomb and delivered all four of Georgetown’s points down the stretch. Wright exploded past his defender for a finger roll to give the Hoyas a 54-51 lead with 46.8 seconds remaining. And after a turnover from Villanova and a miss by Wildcats gunner Corey Stokes, Wright then clinched the game with 11.7 seconds left by converting both ends of a one-and-one with Villanova fans howling down at him.
“It feels very good, especially on the road in a hostile environment,” Wright said. “We need wins. … In the past, we’ve given up games like that. That’s just how it is. We closed it out today, and I think that’s big for us.”