VILLANOVA, Pa. — Josh Hart scored 25 points and No. 2 Villanova held off a late Georgetown run in a 75-64 victory Tuesday night.
With Hart on a second-half scoreless skid, the Hoyas (13-12, 4-8 Big East) sliced a 17-point deficit to two and had the Wildcats reeling at the Pavilion. L.J. Peak buried a 3 and Rodney Pryor hit a jumper to key a 17-4 run that pulled the Hoyas to 60-58 with 3:49 left.
The Hoyas, swept by Villanova in three games last season, seemed poised to pull off the upset they needed to try and make a run at the NCAA Tournament.
The Hoyas just couldn’t stop Hart in the clutch. Hart, a national player of the year candidate, scored 17 points in the first half and missed his first seven shots in the second. But he buried a 3 to make it a seven-point lead and turned a steal into a layup that made it 70-60 and sent the Pavilion crowd into a frenzy.
The Wildcats (23-2, 10-2) held on and won the 79th game in the series between these decades-long rivals.
Hart got the Wildcats rolling after they missed six of their first seven 3-point attempts. Hart hit three 3s in the first half and scored 17 points to help the Wildcats take an early 17-point lead.
The Wildcats are at that point of the season where fans are just waiting for March. The students even started a “Trust the Process” chant when Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid made a cameo in the second half.
Donte DiVincenzo scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half for the Wildcats. Peak led Georgetown with 21 points and Pryor had 20.
Georgetown was involved in a crash on Monday on I-95 North outside of Baltimore on the way to Pennsylvania. There were no major injuries to any members of the team. But guard Tre Campbell banged his right knee and sat out. Coach John Thompson III hobbled on the sideline and often grabbed the scorer’s table for support.
Georgetown lost its second straight game following a three-game winning streak. The Hoyas desperately needed a marquee win to help its NCAA Tournament hopes.
The 2017 Big East championship trophy made a stop at the Pavilion and it’s hard to imagine it won’t soon find a permanent spot at Villanova. The Wildcats are the three-time defending conference champs and lead the Big East again this season. Villanova extended its school record with its 48th straight win at the Pavilion.