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Villanova falls to Georgetown in 72-71 quarterfinal thriller

The top-seeded ‘Cats fell to the Hoyas.

Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament - Georgetown v Villanova Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In a huge upset, the Villanova Wildcats lost to the Georgetown Hoyas, 72-71, in a Big East quarterfinal thriller.

With 4.7 seconds left, Dante Harris knocked down a pair of free throws to beat the ‘Cats by one. A last second shot by Caleb Daniels at the buzzer was no good.

Typically a strong free-throw shooting team, Villanova only shot 63.6% from the line, missing several key free-throws in the closing minutes of the game. On the other hand, Georgetown shot a perfect 23-of-23 from the line, a Big East tournament record.

After a closely contested first half that saw the Hoyas up 37-35, Villanova took control and pushed its lead to 11 points midway through. Georgetown stuck together and battled back late, going on a 13-1 run that saw the ‘Cats down by one with three minutes to go.

The ‘Cats struggled offensively in the last 8 minutes of the game, scoring only 10 points. Once the Hoyas came back, it was a back-and-forth game.

“Down the stretch, we didn’t execute as well as we wanted to, and we came away with a lot of empty possessions,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said.

The hero of the game for the Hoyas, Harris, led Georgetown with 18 points.

“We just played together and kept fighting,” Harris said of the Hoyas’ late push. “I told my guys to never give up, and we just continue to play together.”

Qudus Wahab was also dominant, scoring 17 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. Jamorko Pickett added 12 points, and Jahvon Blair had 14 points in the Hoya’s upset win.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl shined in the loss and paced Villanova with 26 points and six rebounds.

“I think we did a great job playing hard out there tonight, and we just got to keep playing a full 40 minutes,” Robinson-Earl said.

Jermaine Samuels added 20 points and seven rebounds in the loss. Initially expected to be out after sustaining a severe ankle sprain in the game against Providence last week, Justin Moore was able to battle through his injury, scoring 10 points.

“It was everything,” Samuels said about having Moore back for the game. “He’s just a different player, and his mindset is unique, and we’re really grateful he came out there and was able to play on for us.”

The Hoyas were able to take advantage of missed shots by Villanova down the stretch, and ended up coming away with a hard fought win.

“I think guys have stepped up and have embraced the challenge,” Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing said. “They’re doing everything that we needed to do one step at a time. We took one step yesterday, and we took another step today. Hopefully tomorrow will be our third step to be able to play on Saturday.”

For the first time since 2016, there will be a new Big East Tournament champion.

Georgetown advances to the semi-finals, and will play either St. John’s or Seton Hall Friday night at 6 p.m. EST.