The Villanova Wildcats and Boston College Eagles faced off in the sixth edition of the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday evening.
After emphasizing the slow starts in practice all week, the Wildcats came out strong against the Eagles. Mark Armstrong was especially impressive scoring all seven of the teams first seven points to start the game and give Villanova an early 7-5 lead over Boston College.
Whether they were Collin Gillespie or Mark Armstrong jerseys is up for debate, but what is not up for debate is the amount of number two Villanova jerseys in the Prudential Center on Saturday night. This was Mark Armstrong’s first game back in New Jersey since high school and although there was a palpable buzz surrounding the freshman, he did not seem to let it faze him.
“No difference. Same mindset coming into every game, playing Villanova basketball defense and rebounding,” said Armstrong.
Another impressive freshman you may have heard of, Cam Whitmore, checked in just before the under sixteen media timeout and picked up right where he left off. A three point jumper hit all net with 12:46 to go in the first half, and Villanova doubled Boston College’s point total with 16.
Arguably the most impressive missed dunk of the college basketball season, Whitmore nearly tore the rim off the Prudential Center backboard after splitting the defense late in the first half.
“At first I split the defense and I saw the defender there and I just knew I had to rise up. So, that’s really what I do,” said Whitmore.
Whitmore led the Wildcats in scoring going into halftime for the third time in the three games he has played. Although he has not practiced seven weeks prior to making his debut, Whitmore sure looks like a polished vet.
“I’ve been itching to play, itching to help the team out in any type of way possible, defensive end and offensive end," Whitmore added. "That’s what we did, we got the job done and we got a blowout win."
Villanova’s talented freshman trio of Mark Armstrong, Cam Whitmore and Brendan Hausen had 26 of the teams 40 points going into halftime as the Wildcats held a double digit lead at the break.
“Is that right, jeez?” said Kyle Neptune when he found out that three of the eventual five leading scorers were all freshmen. Although the scoring is impressive Neptune was more impressed with the contributions on the defensive end.
“We know we got guys who can make plays, make shots, make plays, so I’m happy for those guys. I know everyone loves to score and be a part of it, but as a coach we try to really push them to lock in defensively” said Neptune.
A back-and forth second half swung in Villanova’s favor after this thunderous slam by Cam Whitmore:
I’m running out of things to say about Cam Whitmore. He is him. He’s got a team-high 19 points, including this thunderous slam pic.twitter.com/PTTUlTqmF4— Tommy Godin (@tommygodinjr) December 10, 2022
A pair of back-to-back Brendan Hausen threes put the Wildcats up by 24 and they would never look back.
The Wildcats were once again led by Cam Whitmore, who had an impressive 19 points on 5-10 shooting off the bench. Whitmore was one of four Wildcats in double figures for the evening, including fellow freshman Mark Armstrong who finished with 13 points while adding seven rebounds and three assists. Caleb Daniels and Eric Dixon both finished with 12 each, respectively.
The Boston College Eagles were led by Mason Madsen who finished with 13 points, four assists and three rebounds. DeMarr Langford Jr also added 13 points on 6-13 shooting from the floor.
Villanova returns to action on the road to play Saint Joseph’s in its final Big 5 game of the season. The road game is set to tip next Saturday at 4 p.m.