The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Seton Hall Pirates 74-72 on Saturday night to secure yet another Big East Tournament crown.
In a season where we have been accustomed to seeing slow starts from Villanova, tonight was a relatively pleasant surprise. The Wildcats got off to a hot start, beginning the game shooting 8-15 en route to building an early 8 point lead.
However, with about 4 minutes left in the half, Seton Hall, propelled by an 8-0 run, cut the ‘Nova lead to 3. Shortly thereafter, a Myles Cale trey gave the Pirates a narrow 1-point lead. Villanova, breaking out of a four minute scoreless streak, was able to reclaim a lead on a Cosby-Roundtree put-back as the horn sounded. Despite going to the break with a narrow one-point advantage, Villanova ended the first half missing 11 of its last 13 shots.
Eric Paschall led the Wildcats in the first half with 11 points, while Saddiq Bey chipped in 7 on an efficient 3-6 from the field with 8 rebounds.. The hero of last night, Phil Booth, was ice cold in the first half, going 0-5 from the floor.
Coming out of the half, the teams traded blows, with ‘Nova building a 6 point lead on a Samuels lay-up off a Booth no-look pass.
A Seton Hall deep ball and a ‘Nova turnover cut the ‘Cats lead to two, forcing a Jay Wright timeout. Phil Booth, cold in the first half, came out swinging in the second half though. Booth nailed a fifteen footer and a three to reclaim a narrow three point lead for the Wildcats.
With just over 3 minutes left, Phil Booth drew a foul driving to a basket and stretched the ‘Nova lead to 9., capping a 7-0 run. However, Seton Hall, after converting a three point play, cut the lead to 4 after turning Villanova over on the press. The last minute saw some hectic play with some sloppy turnovers and questionable fouls.
With just over 15 seconds left, Villanova, inbounding the ball with a 1 point lead, got the ball to Eric Paschall who, after being fouled, hit one of two free throws to give Villanova a two point lead with 8 seconds left. Seton Hall inbounded the ball to Myles Powell, who, guarded by Phil Booth, put up a contested three. The shot went off the back iron and, on the long rebound, Phil Booth was called for the travel as he went for the ball. With .4 put back on the clock, the Seton Hall inbounds went off the backboard and ‘Nova secured the title. Champs, again.
Villanova will head home to await its marching orders tomorrow. You can catch the full NCAA Tournament bracket reveal at 6:00 p.m. on CBS. In the meantime, enjoy another crown.