After two emotionally-charged court-storming victories at the Wells Fargo Center, Villanova had a let-down game on the road at Notre Dame. The Wildcats started slow, but eventually chipped away to a 31-29 lead at the half, but the 'Cats slowed down in the second half, allowing the Irish to build their way to a 65-60 lead by the end of regulation.
The Wildcats were led by Mouph Yarou,with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Darrun Hilliard scored 14 points, and JayVaughn Pinkston added 11 more and 4 assists to close out the top scorers. Defensively, Villanova performed well, holding Notre Dame below it's season-average of 73.1 points, but they weren't very ineffective stopping their opponent from deep, allowing them to connect on nine opportunities, to go 42.9% from beyond the arc.
Villanova made just three of eleven attempts from downtown in the game, and did not really seem to warm up at the end of regulation as they did on Saturday. James Bell went 1-of-2 from deep, while Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard both made just 1-of-4.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, made 9-of-21 from downtown, with forward Cameron Biedscheid leading the way with 5-of-7 shooting from deep and guard Jerian Grant helping him by taking 4-of-11 from outside the perimeter. Senior forward Jack Cooley led the Irish in scoring, battling inside with Yarou and Daniel Ochefu to score 17 points and grab 16 boards.
Senior Tom Knight filled in admirably for fallen comrade Scott Martin (knee injury), scoring 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor with four rebounds and two blocks.
Despite terrible shooting from deep, the Wildcats were aided by shooting 88.2% from the free-throw line and keeping things close to the Irish overall, shooting 42% to Notre Dame's 42.1% from the floor.
Villanova turned the ball over just 9 times in the contest, but retrieved just six balls from turning over their opponent.
They were in the game until the bitter end, however, and fans can expect a few more competitive games this season. Mental mistakes helped bury the Wildcats, as did a weakness defending against the deep ball — neither of the previous two opponents was a terrific three-point shooting team, but the Irish were.
One such mental mistake came with 17:48 left in the game, when Arcidiacono fouled a three-point shooter, Biedscheid, and sent him to the line for three attempts — all of which scored — turning a 5-point game into a 2-point game and giving the Irish the positive momentum they needed to take control of the game.
Even so, the Wildcats were down just three points after a Yarou layup with six seconds left and had a chance to tie the game late, but Saturday's Wells Fargo Center magic didn't follow them on the road. The Wildcats missed their opportunities late in the game and will come home empty-handed to prepare for a Saturday re-match with Catholic-7 rivals, Providence College.