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Villanova snaps the skid with 65-56 win over UCLA

The Wildcats use a strong second half to grind out a tough non-conference victory

ULCA v Villanova Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Villanova Wildcats represented the east coast well, in a battle of east vs. west, hosting UCLA for a Saturday night showdown at the Wells Fargo Center.

Both the Wildcats and Bruins came in to this game desperate for wins, but it would be Villanova grinding out a tough win by a score of 65-56 to close out non-conference play.

“Really proud of our guys, grind out win against a great defensive team that was really together, made it tough," Villanova coach Kyle Neptune. "I was proud of our guys resiliency on a night where we don’t make shots."

The Wildcats started the first half much like they have all season long, starting strong out of the gate but faltering as the half went on. UCLA used two separate 10-0 runs to propel themselves to a four point advantage at halftime, 29-25.

“Like any good team, they’re not going to have every night where you shoot the ball great," Neptune said. "In fact, there will be a lot of nights where you don’t shoot the ball great and a some nights when you shoot the ball terribly. You never want to be the team that says ‘oh well we just didn’t make shots’. That’s never been us and we don’t want that to be us. We want to say ‘alright we didn’t make shots but we still got stops and found a way to win.'"

Villanova had another uninspiring first half offensive effort, as they went into the break shooting 25.8% from the field and 21.1% from deep. The ‘Cats got some good looks, but the shots were just not falling.

Another common trend over the course of the season reared it’s ugly head once again in the first half as UCLA, who coming into this game were shooting 31.1% from deep as a team, connected on 50% of their shots from long range.

In the second half the Wildcats showed some signs of life out of the break, scoring five of the first seven points out of the break.

An Adem Bona free throw would put the Bruins up four with just over eight and a half minutes to play, but back to back deep three pointers from Brendan Hausen gave the Wildcats a seven point cushion with four minutes to go in regulation.

Coming into the game, Hausen was 0-6 in the last two contests from beyond the arc. His night began with him missing two from deep, before he connected on two HUGE three’s from way downtown.

“Those of us who have been around Brendan Hausen know what he is, we’ve all seen him shoot the ball so we never worry about him," Neptune said. "Honestly, we really don’t worry about making or missing shots, our thoughts are with defending and rebounding, I thought we did that at a decently high level and I thought that was the key to victory."

The best shooters in the world never lose their confidence, and that was the case here tonight with Hausen. He sparked a big run in crunch time while the game was still close to help the 'Cats pull away.

In short, the Amarillo Assassin handed the Bruins a ticket back home.

The Wildcats would use the momentum from the raucous South Philadelphia crowd to propel them to their seventh win of the early season.

“The crowd was amazing, I thought they really gave us a jolt,” said Neptune.

Villanova was led by Tyler Burton, who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Hakim Hart was a massive contributor offensively and defensively, chipping in 10 points of his own. Eric Dixon contributed 6 points and 10 rebounds of his own.

As for the Bruins, Laz Stefanovic had an impressive 14 point and 9 rebound showing while Adem Bona contributed 11 points and 8 rebounds to boot.

Villanova breaks a three game losing streak and improves to 7-4.

Next up for the Wildcats is a week off followed by their conference-opener and a meeting with the Creighton Bluejays in Omaha on Doug McDermott jersey retirement night.