The week rest proved positive for the Hoyas as Patrick Ewing found a way to keep Jessie Govan and Mac McClung on the floor—and aggressive—in his signature win Wednesday night.
The Georgetown Hoyas beat the #17 Villanova Wildcats decisively at Capital One Arena, 85-73. After hanging on to beat Georgetown in a tough battle on February 3rd, Jay Wright had wished for a snow-day for the DC game so that Villanova wouldn’t have to play the Hoyas again. Well it didn’t snow enough.
Georgetown, led by McClung and Govan each scoring 21 points, was in the lead for 35+ minutes of this game. Moreover, the Hoyas felt in control of the game and played confidently down the stretch when the defensive pressure stepped up—even in the face of some worrisome turnover ghosts.
The trick was, indeed, to start out aggressive and then follow up with being aggressive.
Each team started the game sharp and hungry. Perhaps their respective Black History Month-themed sneakers and warm-ups added to the significance and focus of using this game to get back to winning. Or perhaps it was more from fear of losing back-to-back games.
Villanova came out firing—almost as a statement after their St. John’s shortcomings—with Paschall and Booth each hitting a three and Gillespie misfiring on two decent looks from beyond the arc. Likewise, McClung nailed his first two from deep and Akinjo hit one, while Pickett missed his first three attempts from behind the arc. Both teams played well and with good pace as the Hoyas held onto a small lead 17-15.
Around the 11-minute mark the lineups saw some big changes with Mosely, Mourning, and Johnson joining Akinjo and Pickett. The defensive-minded five paid dividends with good ball movement leading to a score off a fast break from a turnover and a highlight block of Booth by Mosely as the shot clock expired. As each team pushed for new ways to score, the other countered with a well prepared defensive move.
Villanova switched to zone with about 9 minutes left in the half, and Ewing’s Hoyas responded with a different offensive look that resulted in a Trey Mourning baseline jumper and then a McClung deep three. Still, Govan could not find position and did not get a touch, so Ewing called timeout. Giving up a turnover out of a timeout, the Hoyas again relied on running off of a generated turnover for offense and got McClung his fourth three-pointer to go up 29-22 with just under 7 minutes left.
Georgetown finally fed Govan in the post on the next possession but he was well guarded by Cosby-Roundtree and missed the baby hook. At the other end, Paschall double-pumped on a drive against LeBlanc defending well and the Hoyas were back running with McClung hitting his fifth consecutive three and completing the and-one-free-throw.
McClung, however, missed his next two threes on the very next single possession, but the “fresh” Hoyas rebounded each time. Govan drew a foul and made the free throws to go up 34-26 with 4:37 left to play. The freshman guards made a pair of turnovers with McClung forcing a pass in the crowded paint and Akinjo being called for a charge, however, Villanova did not capitalize beyond a Booth layup over Govan’s outstretched arms. The Hoyas kept pushing and McClung was fouled while elevating for a rebound off of Cremo’s third missed three-pointer and drained the foul shots to go up 36-28 with a little under 3 minutes left.
Villanova remained cold with Saddiq Bey missing another three and Georgetown failed again to get Govan a touch in the post. On the other end Villanova worked the ball around on offense, appearing to timidly pass up a couple decent looks including a potential three-point attempt by Gillespie, and settled for a missed Cremo spinner late in the shot-clock. Georgetown pushed down the court and made one pass to Pickett to drain a three and go up 42-28 with 1:06 left before Villanova called a timeout. Out of the break the Hoyas lost the ball twice with Govan getting blocked and Akinjo forcing a pass in traffic. McClung fouled Gillespie, who made two free-throws before McClung missed his buzzer-beater attempt.
It was 42-32 at the half and Ewing had to have been happy to hold Villanova to 11-28 FGs and 4-14 from three, as well as McClung scoring 17 on 5-8 shooting including 4-7 for three. The Hoyas could not step off the gas pedal now.
Immediately beginning the second half, the defense clamped down on McClung as he was whistled for an offensive foul and missed an acrobatic reverse. Akinjo launched a leftward three and McClung drew a charge. Govan scored from an offensive rebound off of a Pickett drive, but Govan was whistled for a foul on the other end. After a missed Villanova layup and a missed Pickett rainmaker, Cosby-Roundtree scored a dunk. Ewing was disgusted and called a timeout with 17 minutes left and a 44-36 score.
McClung stuck to the aggressive game-plan but got his pocket picked on a drive and Bey got a dunk on the run-out. Govan responded with an and-one layup following a rebound of an Akinjo air-ball. After a Gillespie pump-fake three and reverse layup, the Hoyas finally found Govan in the low-post for a hoop and a hack before the under-16 timeout. Georgetown led 50-40 after the made free throw and pressed, only to give up a three to the trailing Booth.
There was a bit of a game-within-the-game in the matchup between the DC-based wings, typified in Bey fouling Pickett and Pickett running out on a missed three by Bey in two consecutive possessions. Both very talented, their defense was likely what their coaches each asked of them tonight, respectively, and it showed.
With both defenses keyed up, the Hoya freshmen guards, McClung and Akinjo, each drove for tear-drops off of nifty moves to get into the paint. Akinjo made a steal off of Gillespie and drove the court only to dump the ball off between his legs to Govan for a three to go up 58-43 and force a timeout with 13 minutes left. The crowd was wild. On TV, Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery warned the audience that despite the “‘old-school buzz” in the building, Villanova would go on a run.
With under twelve to go Georgetown traded a nice Mosely drive and layup for threes from Paschall and Quinerly to remain up 60-49. Out of the timeout at 11:02, Trey Mourning fouled Paschall, giving up two free throws, but came back and Mourning hit a corner three (63-51). Good defense by Mosely led to a Mourning rebound and a failed three attempt. The defense was solid by this second unit. LeBlanc staying in, despite his three fouls, rewarded Ewing’s trust. Malinowski rewarded everyone with a big three to go up 66-53 with 8 minutes left.
Having gone 3-13 from three in the second half, Villanova looked to Paschall for closer looks and to draw fouls. Villanova itself had three starters with foul trouble and Paschall missed the front-end of a one-and-one. The bench unit again showed great effort with Mourning and Johnson fighting on the offensive glass. Georgetown was getting second chances and Villanova was not. Blair hit a big three to go up 69-54 before the starters came back in with 5:49 left.
The starters, plus Kaleb Johnson, continued the momentum as Govan fed a backdoor pass to Johnson and McClung drove right at Jermaine Samuels (0 pts) to draw his fifth and disqualifying foul. McClung made both free throws to go up 73-54 with 5 minutes left before Booth drilled a jumper and tied up Akinjo in the following play.
Villanova dialed up the physicality but Kaleb Johnson (8 points, 2-2 FT) continued his solid minutes by drawing a foul off of a nice Pickett pass to beat the half-court pressure. Georgetown looked prepared for the push by Jay Wright’s more-experienced squad, but still succumbed to a few turnovers with 3:08 to go and a score of 75-60.
Out of the timeout, not having learned their lesson, Georgetown’s guards panicked and Malinowski threw an errant pass. Luckily Malinowski poked it free to McClung who shoveled it to Govan for the dunk. Villanova drew a foul on the other end and collected a rare offensive rebound that led to an even more rare Gillespie three to make it 77-64 with 2:09. The pressure came after the bucket and the refs bailed Akinjo out with a foul on a would-be turnover.
Akinjo, who had 9 assists and 10 points, sunk them both and Villanova forced up a corner three that went out of bounds—but the stoppage allowed Villanova to set up their press. A good inbounds pass to a well-positioned McClung was negated with an errant pass and another Villanova two. Georgetown fans had to be nervous with the difficulties they saw. However, on the next press-break McClung outmaneuvered the defense leading to a Pickett flush and an 81-66 lead with under 90 seconds left. Booth made a tough drive and jumper over Johnson and Wright called his final timeout with 1:21 left.
Out of the timeout, the Hoyas collected themselves and produced a well-strategized press-break that led to Pickett being fouled at center court. Villanova did not roll over, but the next break of the pressure looked just as smooth and led to a Govan break-away dunk.
The Wildcats fired some threes and kept pressing, but the game was over and the Hoyas pulled their biggest win of the past two seasons and Ewing’s head-coaching career.