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Old 03-01-2018, 04:46 AM
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Default (4)Villanova 69 Seton Hall 68
VILLANOVA, Pa. – Nothing on the advance billing of this evening suggested this was a “Turn Back the Clock” promotional night. But that is how it played out as Villanova and Seton Hall staged an old-school style BIG EAST defensive tussle Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.

Thanks in no small part to captains Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson, though, Villanova got just enough offense to go with stellar defense to post a 69-68 overtime victory over Seton Hall (20-10 overall, 9-8 BIG EAST). Bridges finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Brunson added 14 points, including 12 over the final minutes of regulation and overtime.

“That was an old-fashioned Big East rock fight,” said Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “I would rather not have played in a game like that but we needed a game like that where we couldn’t make shots. Our defense kept us in it.”

The Wildcats limited Seton Hall to 25-of-65 shooting on the night (.385) and 5-of-25 from beyond the 3-point arc (.200). Villanova came up with the win on a night when it was just 24-of-66 (.364) from the field and 8-of-36 (.222) from long range.

National Player of the Year candidate Brunson came up big late when the Pirates had rallied to take the lead. He began the evening 1-of-7 from the floor.

“That’s the sign of a great player,” Wright stated. “He’s not afraid to fail. He loves having the pressure on his shoulders. That’s what the great ones do. That’s was vintage Jalen Brunson – no feel of failure.”

Bridges helped to insure that the Wildcats got off to a solid start, scoring Villanova’s first seven points in the first four minutes to help forge a 9-7 edge after 4:32 had been played in the opening half. A three-pointer by Collin Gillespie and three points from Eric Paschall helped the Wildcats establish a 17-11 lead midway through the period.

But from that point forward the defenses were in lockdown mode. The Wildcats limited the Hall to 6-of-22 (.273) shooting from the floor in the first 16:22 of the first half. At the same time, though, they were held in check themselves by the Pirates (9-of-26, .346),

In spite of its own offensive challenges – VU was 10-of-31 (.323) from the field in the first 20 minutes – the Wildcats claimed a 24-18 lead at halftime. It was all owed to a ferocious defensive effort that included four blocked shots and countless defensive stops. In fact, Villanova held the Pirates without a field goal over the final nine minutes of the first half. A pair of Khadeen Carrington free throws were the only Pirates’ points in that stretch.

Bridges’ nine points and seven rebounds paced Villanova in the period. Paschall chipped in with five points and four caroms.

The 15 minute break between periods didn’t change the tenor of the contest. Points continued to be hard to come by as the Pirates converted 3-of-9 in the opening 6:22 of the period while the Wildcats were 2-of-9. It all added up to a 31-25 VU advantage at that point in the battle.

A mini-Wildcats’ spurt was capped by a Gillespie 3-pointer to extend the Villanova advantage to 36-25. But Seton Hall ignited its offense while VU continued to search for a scoring boost. An 11-2 Pirates surge shaved the gap to 38-37 with 8:37 left on the second half clock as the ‘Cats called for a time out.

It was nip and tuck the rest of the way. A Brunson drive for two gave the Wildcats a 46-43 lead but the Hall came right back with back to back baskets by Michael Nzei to regain the edge at 47-46 with two and a half minutes to play. A short Brunson jumper nudged Villanova back on top at 48-47.

The Wildcats moved in front 51-48 thanks to baskets from Brunson and Bridges but the Hall came right back. After Carrington sank 1-of-2 at the free throw line with 9.1 seconds remaining the contest was deadlocked at 52. Brunson found DiVincenzo for a clean look at a 3-pointer on the final possession but it was long. For the second time in as many games, Villanova was headed to overtime.

The Wildcats used strong defense and timely baskets from their captains to craft a 66-59 advantage with 25.5 seconds to play in the first overtime. But Seton Hall reeled off five straight points to get to within 66-64. An Omari Spellman free throw made it 67-64 before Carrington scored on a runner in the lane with just more than six seconds on the clock.

It was 67-66.

Clutch free throws by Brunson made it 69-66 with 5.5 seconds left before Carrington added a pair of his own free throws with 1.0 second to go. Villanova successfully inbounded the ball to Paschall and time expired.

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Old 03-02-2018, 12:06 AM
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Old 03-02-2018, 09:55 AM
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