The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Georgetown Hoyas 84-74 on Sunday afternoon. The win improved Villanova to 12-2 on the season, and 7-1 in Big East play.
Senior Jermaine Samuels was the main story for the Wildcats, finishing with a career high 32 points on 10-17 shooting, including going 6-7 from three point range. Samuels also grabbed six rebounds, dished out five assists and grabbed three steals in what was likely his best game as a Wildcat.
Since returning from the COVID-19 related pauses of late December and early January, Samuels has looked different than he did early in the season. Following his excellent performance, Samuels said, “I think, honestly just having that time off to clear my head. Also, my pinky got better from Bubbleville. Just having time to rest, clear my head, having talks with certain coaching staff members and my own teammates, just staying confident and worrying about Villanova basketball.”
Head coach Jay Wright was unsurprisingly happy with the senior wing’s performance. “He definitely came out with a fierce focus today. Not just aggressiveness but intelligence. He got our offense started… getting other people shots, in the first half he just carried us.”
Sophomore big Jeremiah Robinson-Earl struggled early-on, but finished strong offensively, finishing with 14 points on 5-13 shooting, six rebounds and five assists.
Senior guard Collin Gillespie and sophomore guard Justin Moore were the two other Wildcats to finish with double digit points. Gillespie finished with 12 points, five assists, and three rebounds, while Moore finished with 10 points, four assists and five rebounds.
Senior guard Jahvon Blair and sophomore big Qudus Wahab led the way for the Hoyas. Blair finished with 18 points, five assists and four boards, while Wahab had 17 points on 8-11 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds.
Samuels and redshirt junior Caleb Daniels carried the Wildcats early on, combining for the first 17 points scored by Villanova, helping them out to a 17-10 lead. Daniels hit a three and two free throws to compile five points, and Samuels contributed 12 points in just six minutes.
For the Hoyas, Blair carried the load early on, contributing 10 points while hitting two threes to keep the Hoya’s in the game, as the Wildcats held a 20-18 lead after nine minutes of play.
The Wildcats responded to the Hoyas run with a 10-4 run of their own to extend their lead back to 30-22. Samuels once again led the charge; in just 12 minutes of playing time he accumulated 15 points, accounting for half of the Wildcats total.
Wahab helped keep the Hoyas in the game early on. Standing at 6’11”, he was able to take advantage of his height and score eight early points to keep the Wildcats lead at just 33-31.
The Wildcats and Hoyas went back and forth the rest of the half, and two free throws from Robinson-Earl gave Villanova a 37-35 lead heading into the break.
Samuels was undoubtedly the story of the first half, scoring 18 points on 6-11 shooting, including going 4-4 from behind the three point line.
Both squads continued to trade buckets in the first five minutes of the second half. Samuels put up 21 points for the Wildcats, while Wahab scored seven straight points for the Hoyas to make it a 46-45 game.
Villanova responded well, coming out of the under 16 timeout with an 11-4 run, highlighted by an and-one by Samuels to climb to 24 points and a three by junior Cole Swider. By the end of the run, Villanova had gained a 57-49 lead with just over 11 minutes to play.
Georgetown wasn’t done yet, however. A three pointer by Blair and a jumper by senior Jamorko Pickett eventually tied the game at 60. Samuels answered with a three of his own to regain the lead for Villanova. A basket for Wahab gave the Hoyas a 64-63 lead, but Samuels answered with yet another three, his sixth of the game.
Blair responded with a three to give Georgetown a 67-66 lead, but Robinson-Earl answered with a blow-by dunk and the Wildcats wouldn’t give the lead up again.
Villanova was able to hold onto the lead and knock down some free throws at the end, leading to the 84-74 final score.
The Wildcats will return to action Wednesday night at 9 PM against Marquette at the Finneran Pavilion.