With junior guard Charles Smith scoring 11 consecutive second-half points, Georgetown University's basketball team survived Villanova, 56-54, at Capital Centre last night for its third straight Big East victory.
Smith scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half. Perry McDonald had 12 for Georgetown (17-6, 7-5 in the Big East), which moved into fourth place, a half-game ahead of St. John's, and within half a game of third-place Villanova (16-9, 8-5).
Villanova sophomore Barry Bekkedam scored a career-high 19 points. He and Smith all but engaged in a one-on-one offensive battle in the second half.
Georgetown looked safely ahead when McDonald scored with 58 seconds to play to make it 52-47, but the Hoyas needed Smith's two free throws with seven seconds left to secure the win after Bekkedam's follow shot made it 54-52 with eight seconds left.
Kenny Wilson had 12 points for Villanova, and Mark Plansky scored eight second-half points after being held scoreless in the first half.
Georgetown has beaten the top three schools in the conference and will play at Pittsburgh Saturday. Last night's loss was the third straight for Villanova, which lost to top-ranked Temple last Wednesday and to Pittsburgh Saturday.
Villanova tied the game early in the second half on Plansky's two free throws. Smith then took over, scoring 14 of Georgetown's next 17 points to provide a small lead.
He scored from right of the key to start the run. After Gary Massey tied the game again at 29, Johnathan Edwards' three-point play put Georgetown up by three. Bekkedam made a jump hook, but Smith came off a screen for a 17-footer. Plansky scored on the left base line, and Villanova put Wilson on Smith all over the court.
It didn't matter. Smith made a foul line jumper, and after Sam Jefferson stole the ball from Plansky underneath, Smith's transition jumper gave Georgetown a 38-33 edge.
Tom Greis made a short jumper off a good pass from Plansky, only to have Smith pull up for a long three-pointer with 9:52 to play. Greis made two free throws, but Smith made a transition layin over Bekkedam to give him 11 straight points and Georgetown another six-point lead with 8:24 to play.
However, Bekkedam, playing his best game this season, made a jumper, then slammed over Edwards to bring the Wildcats within 45-41. And Plansky's 16-footer at the 6:18 mark cut the lead to two.
Villanova had two chances to tie, but Greis missed in the paint and Dwayne Bryant came up with the ball on the next possession. He fed Smith, who drove at Bekkedam and put in a soft hook for a four-point lead.
McDonald made one of two from the line, and Wilson two, to make the score 48-45. But Bryant scored right of the foul line to extend the lead back to five, and Wilson missed the front end of a one and one.
Before last night's game, Villanova Coach Rollie Massimino was presented with a heart-shaped box of chocolates. It was better treatment than he received Saturday from Pittsburgh Coach Paul Evans. The two coaches engaged in a shouting match that ended with obscenities.
Tonight's game began badly and saw no reason not to continue that way. Georgetown took a 9-2 lead when Villanova turned the ball over three times and missed two free throws on its first eight possessions.
From there, the quality of play went downhill.
The Hoyas scored one point over the next 3:43, but it wasn't that important, because the Wildcats did the following during that time: Wilson missed a jumper and Plansky was called for a loose ball foul. Doug West hit a turnaround to make the score 9-4, but Pat Enright then dribbled the ball into McDonald's hands.
On their next possession, West missed a three-point shot, but Smith was called for an offensive foul at the other end. Dwayne Bryant's steal led to McDonald's free throw, which made the score 10-4.
In the first half Villanova shot six of 19 from the floor (31 percent), committed 13 turnovers and 14 personal fouls, missed all three three-point shots and still trailed by one.
This was because Georgetown was eight of 21 from the floor (38 percent), committed 13 turnovers and had 13 fouls, coupled with eight of 17 foul shooting.