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Tournament Throwback: #2 Villanova vs. #15 UNC Asheville (2016)

The Wildcats kicked off their National Championship run with a thrashing of UNC Asheville

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Given the cancellation of this year’s NCAA Tournament, we have decided to use the next few weeks to look back and remember Villanova’s greatest tournament successes of the past. We will be walking through Villanova’s three National Championships on a game-by-game basis. So, as you’re locked inside quarantining and social distancing, share your thoughts, memories, and stories as we relive Villanova’s greatest moments.

#2 Villanova Wildcats vs. #15 UNC Asheville Bulldogs

First Round

March 18, 2016

Original VUHoops Game Thread

Original VUHoops Recap

Game Watch

Tune in to the VUHoops’ screening of the First Round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament between #2 Villanova and #15 UNC Asheville TONIGHT AT 7:00 p.m. EST.

The game should play simultaneously for all who are watching so please take part in the live game chat!

Special thanks to GaryMasseyThrowdown for providing the game footage!

Link: VUHoops Re-Watch

Villanova uses balanced attack to cruise past UNC Asheville


NEW YORK — The first round of the NCAA tournament was about as easy as could be for second-seeded Villanova. The Wildcats even got minutes for some walk-ons.

Now comes the part that has been so hard for coach Jay Wright’s team. The hurdle the Wildcats have not cleared since 2009: their second game of the NCAA tournament.

”Everyone’s been talking about this next game coming up for the whole year, even before we got in the tournament, but it’s very humbling for us to be able to get this first win,” Daniel Ochefu said. “Just going forward in this game, we can’t think about the shortcomings in the past years. We have to focus on the things we can take care of that will help us get this “W” on Sunday.”

Ryan Arcidiacono scored 14 points, including a buzzer-beating 3 at the end of the first half, and Ochefu had 17 points and 10 rebounds as Villanova beat UNC Asheville 86-56 on Friday.

The Wildcats (30-5) will face seventh-seeded Iowa in the South Region at Barclays Center, looking to reach the second weekend of the tournament for the first time since their Final Four run in 2009.

The early exits, including the last two seasons as either a one or two seed, have made that Final Four seem long ago for Villanova fans.

”All season, if we would have answered those questions and we lost this game today, we’re idiots,” Wright said.

Villanova spent three weeks at No. 1 this season and won the Big East regular-season title, but faces massive pressure to reach the Sweet 16.

Another second-round loss will lead to another round of questions about NCAA flameouts.

”I’m happy for them, how they’ve handled everything to get to this point,” Wright said. “And now everyone’s going to ask the question. We’ve got to go do it. That’s the bottom line. If we don’t do it, it’s failure. But there’s nothing wrong with failure in sports if you give your best effort.”

Dylan Smith led 15th-seeded UNC Asheville (22-12) with 14 points.

UNC Asheville of the Big South was little more than a nuisance for `Nova. The Wildcats were settling for 3s over the Bulldogs’ zone early, but they found their range in the final three minutes of the first half after the Bulldogs got within four.

”They tried to hike the energy up a little bit, and it was our job to do the same,” Asheville’s Sam Hughes said. “I guess we just didn’t come with it at that moment.”

The Wildcats knocked down 3s on four straight trips. Arcidiacono finished the flourish with a pull-up 3 as time expired to make it 40-26.

”I think we were able to get in the lane and take out for a couple open 3s, and just ran a good play at the end of the half that we run every single day with like 4.9 seconds,” Arcidiacono said.

Villanova opened the second half getting inside and taking advantage of Asheville’s lack of height. The Bulldogs don’t have a player in their rotation over 6-foot-6. The 6-11 Ochefu, who was limited last week in the Big East Tournament by an ankle injury, scored nine points in the first eight minutes.

UNC Asheville: The Bulldogs shot 47.6 percent and held their own on the boards (15-13) against the Wildcats in the first half, but 10 turnovers were a huge problem. Villanova scored 21 points off those giveaways.

Villanova: Patrick Farrell, a senior walk-on from Long Island, made a 3 in the closing minute, drawing a huge cheer from the big Villanova crowd at Barclays. ... Reserve Mikal Bridges scored 12 points, one short of a career best

Daniel Ochefu gives Villanova extra dimension in win over UNC Asheville


BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Given the early NCAA tournament exits of the past few seasons, the nagging question for Villanova has been: What happens when the 3-point shots stop falling?

Although it was against UNC Asheville, the Wildcats might be feeling better about their answer: Daniel Ochefu.

The 6-foot-11 senior center had 17 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks to lead 2-seed Villanova to an 86-56 win over 15-seed UNC Asheville in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday.

Daniel Ochefu, right, gave Villanova the inside presence it needed for a balanced attack in Friday’s first-round win over UNC Asheville. Elsa/Getty Images

Ochefu isn’t a new addition for Villanova, but his return to health is huge for Jay Wright’s team. He was limited at the Big East tournament last week because of a sprained ankle and could contribute only in stretches. Without Ochefu on the court, Villanova was reliant on its perimeter group — and as a result could leave itself susceptible to a loss on a cold-shooting night. In the Big East title game against Seton Hall, the Wildcats were 8-of-23 from behind the arc, and Ochefu wasn’t able to do much in his 19 minutes.

Friday was a different story. After a week off, Ochefu looked much more mobile and much more effective. His post moves were quicker and he consistently gave Villanova an option against UNC Asheville’s trapping 1-3-1 zone by finding gaps in the middle of the defense. Ochefu scored eight points in the first six minutes of the second half to help Villanova extend its lead, providing a dominant inside presence after the Wildcats launched 17 3-pointers before halftime.

In each of the past two seasons, Villanova has been bounced in the round of 32 by a lower-seeded team — on poor shooting nights. The Wildcats were 11-of-31 from 3-point range against UConn in 2014 and 9-of-28 against NC State last season; in those two games, Ochefu averaged just 4.0 points.

With his sprained ankle seemingly in the rearview mirror, though, Ochefu’s emergence could help Villanova erase its recent March demons.

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