Chicago, IL — In the last semifinal game of the Big East Conference Tournament on Sunday, the three-seeded Villanova Wildcats took the court against the sixth-seed Georgetown Hoyas.
In the last two meetings, Villanova walked away with the victories — on Sunday evening though, Georgetown changed the narrative, upsetting the Wildcats 63-58.
Below we dive into three ways the Hoyas were able to stun the Wildcats:
Attacking the Paint
In the first half, Villanova outscored Georgetown in the paint 18-8. The Wildcats’ Mary Gedaka spun past two defenders in the paint for her sixth point of the night to bring the score up to 27-21, still favoring Villanova late in the second frame. Gedaka added a block and three rebounds to her first half performance.
A simple backdoor move by Gedaka gave her just enough separation to catch the ball and lay it in, resulting in Villanova’s 22 points in the paint. The Wildcats' agile sophomore finished the night with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting. The mismatch between Georgetown’s 5’5" DiDi Burton was captivating, as Burton never backed out and made Gedaka work for every point.
But, the second half was another story, as the Hoyas starting attacking the paint like Villanova. The Hoyas made 10 more shots in the paint in the third and fourth periods than they did when they started the game.
Georgetown impressively had 35 shot attempts in the first half. Too bad they only got 10 of those to fall, which resulted in a very low 28% shooting from the field. The Hoyas also missed many opportunities as they finished the second quarter on a 2-for-11 drought.
Villanova kept the pace for the first half shooting at a comfortable 52% for the half.
In the third quarter, Georgetown’s bench reminded their teammates that it was only a three-point game. Georgetown’s percentage might have be extremely low, but they were still making shots. That ignited a spark with Georgetown as they scored on their next five possessions, tying the game at 36 apiece.
Georgetown head coach James Howard talked about how bad his team wanted this game afterwards.
“It meant something. And when it means something? Oh, that’s bigger than me," Howard said.
Georgetown showed more discipline in their shot selection, shooting 65% from the field in the second half. Georgetown ended the night shooting 42%.
Villanova flipped their stats in the second half, as the Wildcats only shot 38% from the field. With only minutes left in the game, it improved to 43%.
Georgetown forward Cynthia Petke put her team on her back in tonight’s Cinderella story. In the first half, Petke took 10 shots for 11 points and grabbed 5 of her team’s 18 rebounds. On top of her stellar play early, Petke drilled a triple in the third, which gave the Hoyas a much-needed confidence boost as the game inched to a close.
“She loves the game of basketball,” coach Howard said about Petke’s double-double performance. “Don’t just look at her double-double, but also the little things. She will give up her body for a charge. She is all team.”
Timeouts and Execution
With less than two minutes left in the game, Pletke got a steal and then capitalized with a fast break pass and a layup to Morgan Smith to put Georgetown up 55-50. Villanova head coach Harry Perretta was unhappy and took a timeout. Coach Perretta drew up a play and the Wildcats executed, as guard Adrianna Hahn made the three to bring Villanova back within two, 55-53.
What do you know, another timeout was called, but this time it was Georgetown. The Hoyas' Dionna White executed the layup, extending the lead to four, which led to another Wildcats timeout; only this time Villanova didn’t execute the drawn up play as Jannah Tucker missed a three.
After the miss, the Wildcats were forced to foul, ultimately leading Georgetown’s upset victory as they closed the game at the charity line.
With the win, Georgetown will face DePaul in their first Big East semifinal appearance since 1999, a 19-year drought, on Monday, March 5.