The #3 Villanova Wildcats shook off a slow offensive start to outlast the Georgetown Hoyas on Sunday afternoon. Led by senior Jermaine Samuels’ 32 points, the ‘Cats improved to 12-2 and sit atop the Big East at 7-1. Georgetown, coming off of big wins against Providence and Creighton, fell to 5-9 (3-6).
The ‘Cats, looking to get back on track after Wednesday’s thumping at the hands of St. John’s, were hardly inspiring confidence in the first 20 minutes of this one. Jermaine Samuels red hot shooting (6-11, 4-4 from deep) masked a tight and sputtering ‘Nova offense. At one point, the ‘Cats went nearly nine minutes and put just two Samuels’ triples on the board. Villanova players-not-named-Samuels went 6-20 in the first half and the ‘Cats appeared to be settling for questionable mid-range jump shots against Georgetown’s lengthy bigs.
Despite the offensive struggles, Samuels’ 18 first half points helped the ‘Cats build a 10 point lead about halfway through the first half. However, as the half wound down, the Hoyas went on a 15-7 run to cut the ‘Cats lead to 2 heading into the break.
Villanova’s offense looked sharper in the second half with the ‘Cats building an 8 point lead on back-to-back buckets by Cole Swider and Jeremiah Robinson Earl by the under-12 timeout. However, once again, Villanova failed to deliver the death blow - allowing an 11-3 run from the Hoyas to tie the game at 60 with just under 8 minutes left.
Coming out of the under 8 timeout, the ‘Cats turned it on and began to pull away. Samuels, Daniels, and Swider hit four triples to help build a 7 point lead by the 2 minute mark before Georgetown began extending the game via fouls. The ‘Cats finished with a 10 point win in a game that was much closer than the score reflects.
Jermaine Samuels finished with a career high 32 points on 10-17 shooting - including an absurd 6-7 from deep. Samuels also had 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals - just because he could. Collin Gillespie, still trying to shoot his way out of a minor slump, chipped in 12 points of his own and committed just 2 turnovers. In a welcome sight, the ‘Cats missed just one free throw - going 17-18 from the line.
Overall, a win is a win but a team of Villanova’s caliber - or with Villanova’s expectations - is playing with fire when it allows lesser teams to remain in the game. It would have been more reassuring to see the ‘Cats in control for all 40 minutes but, when things got tight, ‘Nova locked this one down. Additionally, it’s great to see such a dominant performance from Jermaine Samuels - a player that sometimes needs to be reminded of just how good he can be when he plays with a little juice.
Villanova will face Marquette this coming Wednesday at 9:00 pm from the Finneran Pavilion.