First things first so we don't have to mention it again. The officiating was terrible tonight, for both teams. There were multiple stretches where each team got a favorable whistle, and the officials robbed the fans of the game's two biggest impact players in Maalik Wayns and Chane Behanan. At one point, the ESPN crew mentioned that the officiating was good because each team was called for the same amount of fouls - 21. Seriously, that happened.
Back to the action. Villanova put together one of it's best first halves of the night, even with Wayns sitting for long stretches due to foul trouble. Villanova took a 44-39 lead into the halftime with a very balanced scoring attack that saw 6 players with at least 5 points, including James Bell who led 'Nova with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
After the break though, it was a different story after Wayns really put himself in foul trouble. More after The Jump.
Just 90 seconds into the second half, Wayns had been whistled for his 4th foul - at least one of which was a total blown call. That really stretched Villanova as Ty Johnson was forced into action and Rick Pitino put the press into play for the first time all game.
'Nova did not respond well with the lack of ball handlers on the court, and Louisville stretched out their lead to as much as 10. With no card left to play Wright finally brought Wayns back in with about 10 minutes left and he immediately sparked the Wildcats back into the game.
Villanova fell into old habits though late on, settling for missed jump shots instead of attacking inside, where they were dominating Louisville with the combination of Bell, Pinkston and Yarou.
In the end, Louisville started making shots as 'Nova's defense failed them, and Villanova just couldn't keep pace. It was an encouraging effort for stretches, but the continued decision making to shoot the ball from the perimeter when under pressure once again brought defeat.
Oh, and somebody tell Dominic Cheek to change his game plan. 1-8 from the floor. 0-6 from 3. 7-8 from the FT line. Now let's see, what should he be doing?