Marial Shayok canned a jumper with 9:58 remaining in the game to put Virginia up twelve with the score 49-37. The Wildcat offense was having difficulty getting anything to drop against a stingy Cavalier defense while Shayok and Ty Jerome seemed poised to answer every small Villanova run with a bucket. Things weren’t looking so good for ‘Nova as the time ticked away and Seniors Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins were being stymied by the Virginia defense …
Then, the Villanova Seniors, that combined to shoot 0-15 in the first half, suddenly answered the bell - first it was Josh Hart draining a three from the right wing to cut the lead to seven. Thirty-one seconds later it was Kris Jenkins drilling a deep three to cut the UVA lead to four. Twenty-nine seconds later it was Jenkins again from deep to make it a 49-48 Cavalier lead and set up a back-and-forth battle for the last 6:49 of the game.
A pair of Jalen Brunson free-throws put the Cats up by one wit 5:32 left. Shayol answered to put UVA up. Hart sank a free-throw to tie it. A Ty Jerome jumper put the Cavs back up by one. Then, a Josh Hart three-ball put Villanova up 54-53 with 3:59 left. The teams continued to battle back and forth until a Mikal Bridges lay-up knotted the game at 57 with 2:17 remaining. The Cavs had two great cracks at it from three but both jumpers spun out, Jalen Brunson made a sweet move to put the Cays up 59-57 with only 35 ticks remaining. Ty Jerome again answered the bell for Virginia with a clutch two-pointer to tie it up with 15 seconds remaining.
On the final possession, Hart drove to the basket with the clock winding down and had his shot just slip off the front of the rim … but Donte DiVincenzo soared in from the left wing, tipped the ball off the glass and it nestled into the basket as time expired and the Wells Fargo Center crowd of nearly 21,000 went crazy over the Cats 61-59 buzzer-beating win!
Villanova earned a huge out-of-conference win to advance to 20-2. The Cats went 3-0 against the ACC in out-of-conference play and swept the out-of-conference, regular season schedule for only the second time in program history (the first being in 2014-15).
- Grit and determination - Cats kept grinding
- 6-6 from beyond the arc in the second half
- +17 from the free-throw line for the game
- Slight edge on the glass
- 72.2% shooting in the second half
- Held the Cavs to 25% 3PFG in the second half
- 0-15 from the floor for the Seniors in the first half
- 1-10 three-point FGs in the first half
- Only four first-half baskets for the Cats for 22 points
Josh Hart (37 Min, 12 Points, 2-9 FG, 2-4 3PFG, 6-8 FTs, 4 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 0 Steals, 0 Blocks, 96 ORtg) In terms of stuffing a stat sheet, this was not a typical Josh Hart game. In terms of hustle and determination, it certainly was. Hart stuck with it on the boards and defensively then found a way to hit two key three-balls to get the Cats back in the mix late in the game. His attempted game-winner fell just short - but DiVincenzo was there to clean it up.
Kris Jenkins (35 Min, 8 Points, 2-10 FG, 2-8 3PFG, 2-2 FT, 5 Rebounds, 0 Assists, 1 Steals, 0 Block, 2 Turnovers, 66 ORtg) Big Smoove has been off kilter the last couple of games but he did come up big down the stretch this afternoon with two huge three-pointers that helped spur the run that got the Cats over the top. Jenkins was solid on defense and on the glass for the full 40.
Darryl Reynolds (20 Min, 2 Points, 1 Rebound, 1-3 FG, 0-0 FT, 0 Assists, 0 Turnovers, 0 Steals, 0 Blocks, 73 ORtg) Reynolds played good positional defense but never got in the flow offensively.
Mikal Bridges (37 Min, 15 points, 6-9 FGs, 3-4 3PFG, 0-0 FTs, 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 2 Turnover, 2 Steals, 2 Blocks, 132 ORtg) It was Brunson and Bridges that did the most on the offensive end to keep the Cats within reach of the Cavs until the Seniors were able to enter the fray. Bridges played well on both ends of the floor. He was a difference-maker on the defense end, rebounded the ball well, and hit a combination of timely three-balls and lay-ups that were crucial to the Wildcat cause.
Jalen Brunson (33 Min, 15 Points, 3-4 FGs, 0-0 3PFG, 9-10 FTs, 1 Rebound, 4 Assists, 0 Turnovers, 0 Steals, 182 ORtg) Brunson was fabulous in this game. Whenever ‘Nova needed a lift on the offensive end of the floor, it was Brunson that found a way to manufacture points against the stodgy Virginia defense. He got to the line, he got to the rim, and he thread the needle on some passes to the interior that got his teammates easy looks at the basket. Brunson got it done today!
Eric Paschall (19 Min, 6 Points, 2-4 FGs, 0-0 3PFG, 5 Rebounds, 0 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 1 Steal, 98 ORtg) Paschall stuck to shooting the ball in the paint in this game and did a decent job. He was strong on the glass.
Donte DiVincenzo (19 Min, 3 Points, 2-9 FG, 0-6 3PFG, 1 Rebound, 1 Assist, 1 Turnover, 0 Steals, 0 Blocks, 96 ORtg) DiVincenzo scored only one basket - but it was the shot of the game as his tip-in at the buzzer gave the Wildcats the W. He played a decent game otherwise with a decent floor game. active defense and a high energy level.
Villanova returns to Big East play on Wednesday night at Providence.