WASHINGTON (AP) -- Villanova has played comeback ball successfully this season - they beat Syracuse after trailing by 15 in December - so coach Jay Wright was bullish after his No. 4 Wildcats cut a 26-deficit to 12 in the second half Monday night against Georgetown.
Didn't happen this time. The gap was too large, and the Hoyas were playing too well.
"We played a team that we couldn't overcome," Wright said. "We've done this before, got down, got a little sloppy offensively, and we've been able to overcome it. This team is too good, this atmosphere was too good, to overcome playing like that."
Villanova committed 17 turnovers and shot 34 percent in the 78-58 loss that knocked the Wildcats out of first place in the Big East, getting the brunt end of an old-fashioned, push-and-shove match worthy of the conference's legacy of physical play.
"They just came out and played harder than us," said Ryan Arcidiacono, who scored 16 points. "They were more aggressive."
Georgetown freshman Isaac Copeland, whose 3-pointer in the final seconds beat Butler on Saturday, scored a career-high 17 points against the Wildcats, and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera also had 17 for the Hoyas (13-5, 5-2), who pulled away early with a 17-0 run on the way to a 42-20 halftime lead. Georgetown shot 60 percent in the first half and 51 percent for the game to move one-half game ahead of Villanova (17-2, 4-2).
Some Georgetown students stormed the court after the game. It wasn't the full-on rush of humanity seen after some of the landmark wins at the Verizon Center, but Hoyas coach John Thompson III nevertheless felt it was a bit over the top.
"The kids, the fans, the students watch a lot of TV, so they're excited, they storm the court," Thompson said. "Yeah, I probably wish they hadn't done that."
Arcidiacono made three 3-pointers during the second-half comeback attempt that made the score 62-50 with eight minutes remaining, but the Hoyas responded with a 6-0 run capped by a long jumper from Copeland.
"They never got tentative with the lead," Wright said. "They just kept attacking, and that's the sign of a real good team."
The teams combined to commit 50 fouls, with multiple bodies crashing onto the floor on multiple occasions. Villanova's Daniel Ochefu fouled out with 4:13 to play and only four points to his credit - quite the climbdown from his career-high 21 against Penn on Saturday.
Villanova's only previous loss this season came in overtime against Seton Hall, but the Wildcats couldn't find an open look against the Hoyas' defense in the first half. JayVaughn Pinkston literally had the ball stolen out of his hands by Jabril Trawick, leading to a 3-pointer by Smith-Rivera in transition. Ochefu missed layups in traffic. In the first possession out of a timeout, Pinkston drove baseline and stepped out of bounds.
The Wildcats went more than seven minutes without a point as the Hoyas built a 30-11 lead.
"Losing was not a surprise," Wright said. "The way we played was a surprise."
BIG EAST PARODY
Not surprisingly, both coaches touted the result as an example of parity in the Big East.
"I don't like it tonight," Wright said. "But tomorrow I like it a lot."
Villanova: In their previous two wins, the Wildcats had assists on 44 of 51 field goals. On Monday, they had just eight assists on 14 buckets. ... Other horror stories from the stat sheet included 2-for-10 shooting from 3-point range in the first half, and just two fast-break points for the entire game.
Georgetown: Villanova's second-half comeback attempt came while Trawick sat out for several minutes after getting hit in the eye. Asked what he thought when the lead was cut to 12, Thompson answered: `The mindset was, `Let's get Jabril back into the game.'" ... Smith-Rivera was selected as the Big East player of the week on Monday.
Villanova: Hosts Creighton on Sunday.
Georgetown: Visits Marquette on Saturday.
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