The Villanova Wildcats never led in the first half, trailing by as much as 11 points at one time. A run near the end of the first half saw them pull within 5 points at halftime, bringing the score to 41-36. Villanova continued to chip away at a hard-charging Irish team after the break, taking the lead for good with 6:11 left to play, on a Josh Hart free throw.
The score stayed close most of the way, but the Wildcats held on at Newark’s Prudential Center for the 74-66 victory; handing Notre Dame their first loss of the season.
Josh Hart set a new career high for scoring with 37 points, and led the team with 11 rebounds and 4 assists. He was the only Wildcat who scored in double-digits, but Mikal Bridges, Jalen Bruson and Eric Paschall all had eight points apiece.
‘Nova outrebounded their opponent 33-25, and beat them 10-8 on the offensive glass. They shot 50% from the floor and connected on almost 90% of their 22 attempts from the charity stripe, despite making just 25% of shots from distance. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey admitted that denying Villanova the three-pointer was a major part of his game-planning for the contest.
While the Irish had Villanova in fits offensively for much of the game they had no answer for Josh Hart, who put in a performance worthy of the Wooden Award.
Hart did his damage from everywhere, going 10-14 from the floor, 3-4 from behind the arc, and 14-14 from the free throw line. While today’s game proved that Villanova still has a ways to go to get ready for March, they’ve got something not many other teams in the country have: a bona fide go-to star.
Villanova improved to 10-0 on the season and won their 16th straight game dating back to last season (best in the nation) while the Fighting Irish fell ot 9-1. Villanova returns home to take on Temple at the Pavilion on Tuesday night.