Villanova’s losing streak extended to three on Friday night as they fell to the Butler Bulldogs, 79-71. It’s another tough loss where Villanova couldn’t find enough good looks late in a game.
“I thought we came out with good intentions, unfortunately we couldn’t sustain that for 40 minutes,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said. “Hats off to Butler, thought they played a hell of a game.”
As they have done all season, Caleb Daniels & Eric Dixon led the way for Villanova. Dixon had 22 points and 6 rebounds while Daniels had 21 points and 3 rebounds.
The game started off even and neither team had much rhythm going until Butler went on a run half-way through the first half. The Bulldogs were able to get looks at the rim during this stretch that seemed to open up the offense for them. This was a 17-6 run that opened up Butler’s biggest lead of the night at 34-22. Villanova trailed by 10 at the half.
Villanova came out aggressive to start the second half and dominated the first seven minutes and change with a 16-1 run.
“I thought we played a little harder, thought we played more inspired,” Neptune said on the second half outburst that led to a five-point lead for Villanova. “I thought we came out with some fire to start the half; thought we were in a good spot. They made their run and unfortunately, we couldn’t sustain it.”
Daniels was able to have some success on the block against the Butler guards, shooting six of nine from two.
“I saw that they wanted to play me a little aggressive, so I figured I’d just slow the game down and try to take advantage of that aggressiveness,” Daniels said on his success in the paint.
Both teams traded shots until eight and a half minutes left in the game. Butler poured in 28 points the rest of the game and won this stretch 28-15 to give themselves enough room to just focus on hitting free throws to come away with a win.
A huge issue for Villanova was keeping the ball in front of them on defense. Butler had 52 points from the free throw and two-point distance combined.
Simas Lukosius was practically unstoppable for Butler on a career night. Villanova couldn’t keep him out of the paint on drives and he was knocking down jumpers from behind the arc whether a defender was on him or not. Lukosius had a career high 28 points that included five three pointers and only one miss from inside the arc.
“He drilled shots man, made some tough ones,” Neptune said on the high-level shot making of Lukosius. “He got open on some early ones and it looked like that gave him confidence to knock down some of those tough ones.”
Butler shot 68 percent from inside the arc. and some of this was Butler being the superior passing team. not just how bad Villanova was in front of the ball. 68 percent is pretty inexcusable and I’m not sure how a team wins giving up those makes in the paint.
Chuck Harris had 12 points for the Bulldogs while Eric Hunter Jr. had 10 points and seven assists.
Villanova is now 8-10 with a three-game losing streak and 2-5 in the Big East. Butler is now 11-8 on the season and passes Villanova in the Big East standings with a 3-5 conference record.
Villanova hosts Georgetown this Monday on MLK Day with a noon tip-off on Fox.