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March 8, 2007

Fast start sparks No. 9 Hoyas over Villanova

NEW YORK - Roy Hibbert scored eight of his 14 points in No. 9 Georgetown's opening 26-2 run, and the Hoyas held on for a 62-57 victory over ninth-seeded Villanova in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament Thursday.

A rested Georgetown (24-6), the tournament's top seed, came out shooting, and a weary-looking Villanova couldn't find the basket early. The Wildcats made a game of it in the closing minutes, but the huge first-half deficit was too much to overcome.

DaJuan Summers got things started with a 3-pointer 2:22 in and the Hoyas kept going from there. Georgetown was up 14-0 before Curtis Sumpter finally got Villanova (22-10) on the scoreboard with a jumper 7:20 into the game.

The Hoyas followed with a 12-0 run to go up 26-2 at 9:28 on Jeff Green's layup, and opened leads to as big as 25 points three times.

Green, the Big East player of the year, added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Hoyas, who shot 44 percent (23-of-52) and advanced to Friday's semifinal game against the winner of the Notre Dame-Syracuse game later Thursday. Georgetown has won 13 of its last 14.

Sumpter scored 18 points for Villanova, which had its four-game losing streak end after beating DePaul on Wednesday. The Wildcats just couldn't get their offense going in the first half - shooting 27 percent (6-of-22) compared to the Hoyas' 57 percent (16-of-28).

Trailing 37-18 at halftime, the Wildcats came out for the second half more energized. Villanova cut a 22-point deficit late in the first half to 10 with a 14-2 run, capped by Scottie Reynolds' 3-pointer 5:19 in.

After falling behind again by 17, Villanova hung tough down the stretch and made the Hoyas and their fans sweat it out a little bit.

Jessie Sapp made one of two free throws to give Georgetown a 56-45 lead with 1:43 left, but Villanova stormed back. Sumpter made two of three free throws with 27.9 seconds remaining to make it 59-54, the Wildcats' lowest deficit since Hibbert's layup that gave the Hoyas a 5-0 lead less than 4 minutes into the game.

But Georgetown wasn't about to set another tournament record for the biggest blown halftime lead - the Hoyas lost to Syracuse in last year's semifinals after leading by 15.

Sapp made one of two free throws and Hibbert dunked before Sumpter hit a 3 as time expired.

The teams reversed offensive woes in the second half, with the Hoyas going just 7-of-25 (28 percent) from the field, while the Wildcats were 13-of-29 (44.8 percent). Villanova recovered from the dismal first half to finish 37.3 percent from the field, going 19-of-51 overall.

Villanova senior guard Mike Nardi, sidelined for most of the DePaul game after injuring his left ankle last Saturday against Syracuse, played a little more in this one, but wasn't much of a factor on offense. He went scoreless and had two assists in 8 minutes.

For more coverage of the Georgetown Hoyas, check out HoyaReport.com; for more on the Villanova Wildcats, check out VUSports.com.

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