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Wildcats claw back for a 76-63 win at Georgetown to open Big East play

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The Wildcats overcame an early deficit to pull away from Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas.

NCAA Basketball: Roman Legends Classic-Villanova vs Hartford David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

In the first Big East game of the year, the Villanova Wildcats defeated long time conference rivals Georgetown 76-63.

In spite of what most analysts were predicting before tip off, Georgetown came out strong and looked as if they had a point to prove in the first half. The Hoyas took a 14-7 lead in the opening five minutes, and only built from there. Pulling ahead by as much as 18 at one point, the Hoyas combination of 3 point shooting and Qudus Wahab’s under the basket dominance overwhelmed the Wildcats. Georgetown kept up their great start and went into halftime up 46-33.

“They are a well coached team,” Jay Wright said about Georgetown after the game. “They were very prepared for everything we did in the first half, and they just sliced us. We had some good shots but we didn’t make them.”

Villanova started to find the rhythm they’ve become accustomed to so far this year towards the end of the first half and narrowed an 18-point deficit to 13 going into halftime.

Once the second half tipped off, the ‘Cats finally shifted into sixth gear, scoring 10 points in the first four minutes by reverting to their tried and true answer, Colin Gillespie. Once the senior found his stroke from deep, there was no looking back.

“In the first half we were getting great shots for each other, they just weren’t falling,” Gillespie said. “In the second half we just wanted to keep doing that, keep sharing the ball, make extra passes and get guys shots.”

Georgetown’s lead was quickly shortened to seven points, and from there, Villanova rediscovered their “Fortune 500” status. ‘Nova took a 53-50 lead while on a 15-0 run and showed why, even with their back to the wall and a mountain of a deficit to overcome, they deserve to be in the AP Top Ten.

With less than four minutes to go, Villanova blew it open with a Caleb Daniels trey that gave it a seven point lead, the Wildcats’ largest of the night. Daniels, who continued with the consistent performances he’s been putting in this year, scored 18 on the night and was the joint leading scorer for Villanova along with Gillespie.

Even in games like this, Daniels maintains a cool head.

“We’re a very resilient team,” he said, about Villanova’s ability to come back from an 18-point deficit. “We go hard in practice and we practice these type of situations every day, so these situations do not rattle us.”

In the end, the final score was all that mattered, and Villanova took home a 13-point victory and a first Big East win.

Despite their preseason rankings, Georgetown looked to be more than a solid opponent. Jamorko Pickett and Qudus Wahab were the Hoyas’ go-to scoring outlets in the first half, combining for 28 points, while senior Jahvon Blair and freshman Dante Harris added another 11 and nine points, respectively.

The Wildcats finished with another strong showing. Eric Dixon put in a performance worthy of respect for a redshirt freshman, Cole Swider finished with 10 points and six from deep, while Justin Moore and Jermaine Samuels owned the boards for the ‘Cats, collecting eight and six rebounds to their names, respectively.