For the fifth consecutive season, the Villanova Wildcats have won a November Championship. On Friday afternoon they claimed their 2nd Battle 4 Atlantis Title as they defeated the Northern Iowa Panthers 64-50 in the Bahamas. In the tournament’s seven year history, Villanova is the only team to win it twice.
The victory came mainly on the efforts of juniors Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. Brunson finished the game 16 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. Bridges also filled the stat sheet with 18 points, 7 rebounds, a block, a steal, and an assist.
The other two juniors, Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, also finished in double digit scoring for the game. Booth was the teams best deep threat today, going 3-5 from behind the arc as he scored 12 points along with 2 assists and a rebound. Paschall made his presence known inside with 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Donte DiVincenzo wasn’t as much of an offensive threat today, but he was a defensive spark with 6 blocks, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.
Omari Spellman had a rough day with zero points on 0-8 shooting, but he was able to contribute on the boards with 6 rebounds. In fact, none of the freshman class were able to add any points today in limited minutes. Especially concerning/confusing was the lack of minutes for Jermaine Samuels, who only entered the game once it was well in had in the final minutes.
In the first half, Villanova hit a few shots early before falling into the same first half slump that had plagued them all tournament. They shot just 43% from the floor and still struggled from beyond the arc, going just 3-12 from deep. Despite being +6 in turnovers, the Wildcats were -7 on the boards at half-time, leading by just three points.
Villanova continued to struggle offensively out of the break, but their defense really began to lock down the Panthers. Nova allowed just four points in the first eight minutes of the second half. UNI made a little run at a comeback, but the Wildcats were now hitting on all cylinders to close out their championship victory.
Villanova, now 6-0 on the season, will get a bit of a break before playing Penn in the only on campus game this season. The Wildcats will host the Quakers in Jake Nevin Field House in a “students only” game on Wednesday the 29th at 7:00 PM.