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Portland pushes past Villanova, 83-71, in PK Invitational consolation game

The ‘Cats are now 0-2 at the Phil Knight Invitational.

Villanova v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

One team had great ball movement, hustled for charges, and shot well from beyond the arc, with some timely three-pointers fueling its run — and the other team was Villanova.

The hometown team, the Portland Pilots, held off the Wildcats in Friday’s Phil Knight Invitational consolation bracket game, defeating ‘Nova in a game they led a majority of the way, 83-71.

“I thought we came out with the right mindset, thought our guys played hard, unfortunately, Portland came out and drilled shots and really executed their game plan,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said. “When we got behind, I think we got it down to two possessions, and unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.”

Whether it was from the three-point line, or getting the ball inside, it seemed like Portland was able to do what it wanted on the offensive end after an even start between both teams.

A massive 26-4 run that spilled into the second half by the Pilots changed the course of the game.

Portland took a 35-27 lead at the half, and quickly extended things with a 10-0 surge out of the break, topping off that massive surge.

The Wildcats trailed as much as 18. They appeared to be making another potential comeback, trimming the deficit down to as low as seven, with less than five minutes to go, but they were unable to generate any further momentum after that, as the Pilots continued to pour it on.

“You’re playing against really good teams, we just gotta keep coming,” Neptune said. “The one thing I’m proud of is we got into those deficits and then we found a way to get back in all these games. I’m proud that these guys have kept coming and coming, but we need to stop getting down in these situations.”

The disappointing result drops the Wildcats to 2-4 overall and 0-2 for the weekend.

“We’re just young,” Villanova’s Caleb Daniels said. “We have a lot of guys that are trying to get it and do what we do. We’re just staying together through anything. We have great resolve, we’re very resilient. Even as a young group, we’re just trying to get better every day.”

Daniels led the ‘Cats with 18 points, seven rebounds and two assists before fouling out. Jordan Longino had 14 points. Brandon Slater had 11 points, while Eric Dixon had 10 points, seven boards and two assists. Mark Armstrong, who didn’t play in the first half, had nine points on 4-of-12 shooting, one rebound and one steal through 17 minutes of action. Chris Arcidiacono had three points, five boards and two assists and a plus-minus rating of -22. As a team, the ‘Cats cut down on turnovers from the previous day, only giving the ball up eight times.

For Portland, six different players scored nine or more points. As a team, it shot 11-of-24 (45.8%) from long range. Individually, Moses Wood had 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Tyler Robertson had 15 points, seven boards, eight assists and six turnovers. Kristian Sjolund added 14 points and six rebounds. Vasili Vucinic had 10 points, while Juan Gorosito and Jack Perry each had nine points.

It’s the first time the ‘Cats have dropped three straight since an early February stretch in 2020. They’ll try to avoid a last-place finish when the tournament wraps up on Sunday, where they’ll face either Michigan State or Oregon.

“We haven’t even really talked about it, or talked about it at all,” said Neptune, when asked how much of an impact Cam Whitmore and Justin Moore’s injuries have had. “It is what it is. We have these guys, good players in the locker room. It’s basketball, this is a contact sport. Injuries are part of the game, so we can’t make any excuses for ourself or think what would happen if we had this guy or that guy. We just have to go out with what we have right now.”