Of all the losses I've seen during my time at Villanova, I would put that loss up there with the 4-point play at Rutgers.
The Wildcats dropped a bad one to Seton Hall late Monday night, 66-65. A Villanova team that came into the game winning their last 5 of 6 lost by one point in the last 9 seconds to a Seton Hall team that had lost its last 9 games.
Seton Hall shot the lights out, as we've seen many opponents do this season, hitting a Big East season-high of 13 3-pointers. What did Nova shoot? Four of 18. Kyle Smyth started by hitting 4 straight 3's, and Aaron Cosby ended by hitting 3 straight. 62 out of Seton Hall's 66 points came from just 4 of its players.
This was a hard fought, albeit sloppy, game from the beginning. Although Seton Hall started hot, Villanova fought back with its trap defense and began scoring off of turnovers. JayVaughn Pinkston quickly found his rhythm, with the offense running through him. The Pirates' scouting report had them doubling JVP and he was moving it well, while also drawing fouls on shots. In fact, everyone was drawing fouls. And hitting their foul shots. Villanova finished an astonishing 25 of 27 from the charity stripe.
But then the shit hit the fan. With 3 minutes to go, Tom Mayaan flopped in front of an official during a scrum, causing the ref to call a technical on JayVaughn, which was his fifth foul. It was very clearly a flop - Mayaan got up and smirked to the crowd after the play like a kid who got away with stealing a piece of candy. The zebras herded together to review the play for about 5 minutes, and the replay showed that it was, without a doubt, a flop. The commentators joked that the NCAA should fine Mayaan his lunch money. The verdict from the refs? A double foul. The modern officiating cop-out.
This wasn't the first flop of the game either - Kyle Smyth had been drawing charge calls all game, but it wasn't until a blatant dive in the second half that his acting became obvious.
Finally, with a 2-point lead and time winding down, James Bell turns the ball over instead of calling a timeout, the loose ball finds its way to Faquan Edwin in the corner, who sticks a 3 to take the 1-point lead. With JVP and Darrun Hilliard both fouled out, Arch had to force up a jump shot at the buzzer that didn't fall.
This one is especially tough to take because we've been treated to such great basketball recently. We thought these losses were behind us. I'm pretty sure everyone was looking past this game on to Pittsburgh and Georgetown. Time will tell how bad this loss is. Knowing how this team plays to the level of its competition, I wouldn't be surprised if they beat both of their upcoming ranked opponents and made a run in the Big East. But for now, this loss leaves a pretty bad taste.
Although I can't muster up many positive feelings about this game right now, it should be noted that Mouphtaou Yarou scored his 1,000th point tonight in the midst of a 14 point, 15 rebound performance. Also notable is the fact that only 7 players saw significant time tonight for the Wildcats, with Coach Wright opting to put Mislav into the game late rather than Achraf.
Seeing my own regular season coverage end on a painful 3-game skid, I'm off to collect rabbits' feet and horseshoes.