Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova storm past Michigan for national title

Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova storm past Michigan for national title


SAN ANTONIO -- They chanted his name from the cheap seats: "Di-Vin-cen-zo, Di-Vin-cen-zo." By the time Donte DiVincenzo was done doing his damage, Villanova had another title and college basketball had its newest star.

The redhead kid with the nickname Big Ragu came off the bench to score 31 points Monday and lift `Nova to another blowout tournament victory -- this time 79-62 over Michigan for its second title in three seasons.

The sophomore guard had 12 points and an assist during a first-half run to help the Wildcats (36-4) pull ahead, then scored nine straight for Villanova midway through the second to put the game away. He capped it with a 3-pointer from a step behind the arc that he celebrated with a knowing wink over to TV announcers Jim Nantz and Bill Raftery on the sideline.

Villanova won all six games by double digits over this tournament run, joining Michigan State (2000), Duke (2001) and North Carolina (2009) in that rare air.

"I thought we played our best game in the championship game," coach Jay Wright said.

The last team to win its two Final Four games by 16 or more: UCLA in 1968. During the dynasty.

One key question: Does Wright's team belong on the list of the best of all-time?

Maybe so, considering the way Villanova dismantled everyone in front of it in a tournament that was dripping with upsets, underdogs and at least the appearance of parity.

Maybe so, considering the Wildcats won in seemingly every way imaginable. This victory came two nights after they set a Final Four record with 18 3-pointers, and one week after they relied more on defense in a win over Texas Tech in the Elite Eight.

That debate's for later.

DiVincenzo squashed any questions about this game with a 10-for-15 shooting night -- 5 for 7 from 3 --that was really better than that, making him an easy winner for most outstanding player in the Final Four.

With Michigan refusing to go away early in the second half, he opened his game-sealing run with an around-the-back dribble to get to the hoop and get fouled. On the other end, he delivered a two-handed rejection of Michigan's Charles Matthews -- his second block of the game -- when Matthews tried to bring it into the paint.

"Blocked shots, definitely," DiVincenzo said when asked if he enjoys 3s or rejections more. "I pride myself on defense and just bringing energy to the team."

The 3 that sealed it came from a big step behind the arc and gave Villanova a 62-44 lead with a bit less than 8 minutes left.

About the only drama left was whether DiVincenzo could unwrap himself from his teammates' mob hug to toss the ball underhanded toward the scoreboard after the buzzer. He succeeded there, too.

Mikal Bridges finished with 19 in what could be his final audition for the NBA. Player of the Year Jalen Brunson was celebrating despite an off night -- nine points and two rebounds. His struggles barely mattered.

What a couple months it's been for Philly. First the Eagles. Now this. The Super Bowl, though, was a classic. This one was only beautiful to one team.

Michigan (33-8) came out playing tough-nosed defense it relied on over a 14-game winning streak that got the Wolverines to their second final in six years.

Moe Wagner scored 11 early points to continue his great play in the Final Four. Villanova started 1 for 9 from 3-point range. And yet, after DiVincenzo banged down a 3 from a step behind the arc for Villanova's second of the night, coach John Beilein looked at the scoreboard and saw his team behind, 23-21.

"The way DiVincenzo shot the ball, it was just incredible for us to try to win that game with the roll he went on," Beilein said.

If his first 3 wasn't demoralizing enough, DiVincenzo made another, then took a bounce pass from Brunson for a dunk, then paid it forward with an assist to Omari Spellman. It was part of a 23-7 run that gave the Wildcats a nine-point lead at halftime; they never looked back.

For the record, DiVincenzo has no problem starting games on the bench.

He's been willing to do whatever's needed since he arrived in 2015. His season cut short because of a knee injury, he was healthy enough to run the scout squad for Villanova during its first title run. Some on the team said he did Oklahoma star Buddy Hield better than Hield.

But maybe a more apt comparison is to ... Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

DiVincenzo joins them in the rare club of players to crack 30 points while also shooting better than 66 percent from the floor in a Final Four game.

Temple falls to No. 16 Utah in 3rd-place game in Puerto Rico


Temple falls to No. 16 Utah in 3rd-place game in Puerto Rico


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Jakob Poeltl was a force inside for No. 16 Utah. And he got some help from Brandon Taylor at a key moment.

Taylor hit a tough go-ahead shot with 28.4 seconds left and Poeltl scored a career-high 32 points to help the Utes beat Temple 74-68 in Sunday's third-place game at the Puerto Rico Tipoff.

Poeltl, who also had 11 rebounds, tied for the No. 2 single-game scoring total in Tipoff history. He also went 4 for 4 at the foul line in the final 4.6 seconds, giving Utah (4-1) a tough win after Friday's blowout loss to Miami.

Taylor came up with the biggest shot in a tight finish that had the teams trading the lead in the final 3 1/2 minutes. Tied at 68 and with the shot clock winding down, he retreated into the far corner in front of Utah's bench and launched an off-balance shot against Levan Shawn Alston Jr. that dropped through the net.

"I was confident," Taylor said. "It felt good. I was relaxed more than anything. I think me being relaxed helped a lot."

This from a guy who started the year 3 for 18 through the first two games, and the numbers hadn't gotten dramatically better through the first two games in San Juan.

"If there was a time to step up and hit one," coach Larry Krystkowiak said, "it was certainly then."

Temple (1-3) had a chance to tie after Taylor's shot, but Daniel Dingle missed two free throws with 15.6 seconds left. Poeltl got the rebound and the Owls were unable to foul while chasing the Utes around.

Josh Brown then shoved Poeltl from behind on a pitch-ahead in a desperate attempt to stop the clock. The referees called it a flagrant foul, giving Utah two shots and the ball. Poeltl sunk them, plus two more to close it out.

Utah shot 40 percent and led by 14 early in the second half before Temple rallied.

Quenton DeCosey scored 14 points for the Owls, who shot 39 percent and fell to 0-3 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25.

"We have a chance to be pretty good, but we need to pay attention to some details," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said.

"I'm grateful that we're where we are, but we need to finish games out better than we have been."

Temple: Obi Enechionyia scored 13 points. ... Temple made 10 of 29 3-point attempts. ... Forward Jaylen Bond played just 13 minutes before fouling out. ... Temple got to the line just nine times.

Utah: Taylor finished with 10 points. ... Jordan Loveridge scored just eight on 2-for-12 shooting, but had nine rebounds. ... The Utes made 26 of 34 free throws. ... Utah committed nine turnovers after the mistake-filled loss to the Hurricanes.

Poeltl's day
Poeltl finished 10 for 12 from the field and 12 of 14 from the foul line while getting Bond in foul trouble.

"I tried to be aggressive, post up every opportunity I had, go aggressive on the offensive boards," Poeltl said, "and I was just feeling it."

Fresh eyes
Krystkowiak said he gave his team Saturday off to regroup.

"We haven't been exactly a well-oiled machine offensively," he said. "And some of the clarity after a day of the coaching staff spending some time on offensive ideas, I think it freed our minds up and allowed us to play more aggressively on offense."

Up next
Temple hosts Delaware on Sunday.

Utah hosts Idaho State on Friday.

Temple falls to No. 22 Butler in Puerto Rico Tipoff


Temple falls to No. 22 Butler in Puerto Rico Tipoff


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Chris Holtmann finally got to see how his Butler team would handle a game when the offense wasn't run-run-running its way to big scoring totals.

Uglier game? Sure.

It was also exactly how the coach hoped his No. 22 Bulldogs would respond.

Kellen Dunham scored 16 points to help Butler beat Temple 74-69 on Friday in the second round of the Puerto Rico Tipoff,

Tyler Lewis scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime for the Bulldogs (3-0), who shot just 36 percent, including 5 of 21 from 3-point range. But they shook free from a slow start and a 12-point hole to advance to the Tipoff's championship game.

"We responded to some adversity that we had not seen yet this year," Holtmann said. "When you have guys like Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham and Tyler's learning this ... and they respond with the kind of leadership and grit and toughness that you need, that's the makings of a good team."

The Bulldogs ran their first two games at pedal-to-the-floor pace, shooting 62 percent and following a program-record 144-point opener against The Citadel with a 93-59 rout of Missouri State on Thursday.

But Holtmann had cautioned afterward that those two scoring outbursts represented only "a really small sample size."

His team got the test he wanted Friday afternoon against the Owls (1-2), and passed with a combination of hitting the boards, getting to the line and scrapping it out on the defensive end.

"We had to keep working on our defense throughout the summer because we knew we had a good offense," said Jones, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds. "We just kept working at it and (assistant coach Terry Johnson), he's got the plays for us to be in the right positions. When we're out there, we just execute what they want us to do."

Quenton DeCosey scored 24 points for the Owls, who opened on a 12-2 run. But Butler erased that deficit and led by four at halftime, then pushed ahead by 10 with 4 minutes left before grinding out the win.

Temple struggled with shooting after halftime (34 percent) as Butler slowly asserted control.

"We did a very good job obviously early in the game," Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. "I thought we let them loose for some critical offensive rebounds in the first half that sort of got them where they needed to be."

Temple: Jaylen Bond had 13 points and 13 rebounds. ... DeCosey also had 10 rebounds. ... Both of Temple's losses have come against ranked opponents, starting with No. 1 North Carolina in last week's season opener.

Butler: Andrew Chrabascz had 13 points and 10 rebounds. ... Roosevelt Jones added 12 points and 11 rebounds. ... Butler made 13 of 16 free throws after halftime.

Up next
Temple will play the Miami-Utah loser in Sunday's third-place game.

Butler will play the Miami-Utah winner in Sunday's championship game.