#1 AP, Villanova tied a program record for consecutive victories (16) with a grind-it-out, 74-66 win over #23, Notre Dame at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
The Cats were led by a fabulous performance from Senior, National Player of the Year Candidate, Josh Hart. Hart posted 37 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists while playing stellar defense. The Irish led by as many as 11 and had the lead for much of the game, but ‘Nova turned up the defense a notch in the second half to supplement the Hart scoring explosion. Notre Dame was held to 25 second half points as the Cats surged into the lead and held off the Irish with a 20-22 (90.9%) FT shooting performance.
Matt Farrell and Steve Vasturia stood on their heads at times and yet their combined 36 points was not enough to eclipse Hart’s 37. Hart was a perfect 14-14 from the free-throw line - singlehandedly scoring eight more points than the entire Notre Dame team at the stripe … which equaled the final margin of victory. V.J. Beachem and Bonzie Colson combined to shoot 0-8 from three-point range for the Irish.
- 1.21 points per possession for ‘Nova
- defense held ND to 25 second-half points
- won the rebounding battle
- held ND to 27.3% 3PFG shooting
- Cats shot 61.8% from two-point range and 90.9% from the FT line
- +14 scoring margin at the FT line
- Villanova offense found ways to get to the rim and get to the line
- ‘Nova only shot 25% from three-point range (4-16)
- failure to prevent dribble-drive on occasions
Josh Hart (37 Min, 37 Points (career high), 11 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Steals, 180 ORtg) This was an individual effort for the Villanova basketball history book. Against a ranked team, on a neutral court, Hart kept the Cats in the game in the first half and then led the charge to garner the win in the second half. Hart shot 10-14 FG, 3-4 3PFG, and 14-14 FTs and defensive rebounded like a banshee. He made yet another statement not only for All-American but for National POY.
Enjoy the highlights from this performance:
Kris Jenkins (36 Min, 7 Points, 3 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Block, 3 Turnovers, 68 ORtg) Jenkins struggled on the offensive end but did a good job of staying mentally engaged in the game. His defense was key and he scored a tough bucket on a dribble move late to get the Cats a working margin for the stretch run. His turnovers were a little disconcerting - he normally is an impeccable decision-maker with his passes but made a very poor post feed decision among his three turnovers.
Mikal Bridges (38 Min, 8 Points, 6 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 2 Steals, 0 Turnovers, 135 ORtg) It seemed out of character for Bridges to have a mental lapse on the last possession of the first half to allow the Irish a late basket and a five point half-time lead. This may have helped focus the Cats on the need to bring better help defense and to better challenge ND jump-shooters in the second half. Bridges made several timely baskets on crafty, dribble moves to the basket and his on-the-ball defense and work to apply ball pressure in the second half were indispensable.
Darryl Reynolds (25 Minutes, 6 Points, 3 Rebounds, 1 Steal, 2 Blocks, 152 ORtg) Solid defensive game for Reynolds. Played within himself on offense. Hit two critical, late free throws.
Jalen Brunson (25 Minutes, 8 Points, 3 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 101 ORtg) Brunson’s minutes were limited because of a turned ankle. He was substituted offense-defense during stretches of the second half as the Cats looked to focus on getting stops on one end but really needed Brunson quarterbacking the offense on the other end. Had his hands full trying to guard Matt Farrell.
Eric Paschall (20 Minutes, 8 Points, 4-4 FGs, 3 Rebounds, 1 Block, 146 ORtg) Paschall played at a better pace and more under control in this game than he has in some recent outings. He hit baseline jumpers, flushed it in traffic and got lay-ups. Had a key block on a Vasturia jumper late in the second half that led to a run out and a bucket for the Cats. Solid game for Paschall.
Donte DiVincenzo (19 Minutes, 0 Points, 0-4 FG/3PFG, 4 Rebounds, 2 Turnovers, 14 ORtg) As well as DiVincenzo has played of late, he couldn’t buy a jumper in this game. His looks from three-point range were pretty much wide open - but none of them fell. He also didn’t have much of a floor game when he ran the point today.
Villanova plays again Tuesday night at 7PM when the Cats take on Temple at the Pavilion for the Big 5 Championship, a chance for a first ever 16-0, four-year sweep of the Big Five, and an opportunity to set a new school record for consecutive wins.