Villanova Wildcats

Instant Replay: Villanova squeaks by Seton Hall to reach Big East tournament finals

Instant Replay: Villanova squeaks by Seton Hall to reach Big East tournament finals


NEW YORK -- Josh Hart's follow of a Kris Jenkins miss with 9.6 seconds left gave Villanova a dramatic 55-53 win over Seton Hall Friday in the Big East Conference Tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Villanova, which trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, rallied back, and after a furious last eight minutes that included four ties and six lead changes, Khadeem Carrington gave Seton Hall a one-point lead with a follow shot and free throw with 1:43 left.
Villanova had the ball with 18 seconds left still down one and Jenkins, the buzzer-beating hero of last year's national championship game, lined up for a three. This one missed, but Hart came soaring over Desi Rodriguez and Angel Delgado for the game-winning putback. He added a foul shot for the two-point lead.
Delgado missed a shot over Jenkins from the paint as time expired.
The game closely paralleled last year's Big East title game, when Seton Hall built an early 14-point lead, Villanova rallied back to take the lead, only to lose by two.
This time, the Wildcats made enough plays at the end to win despite a very ugly start.
Seton Hall took advantage of some terrible Villanova shooting to build an 11-point lead at 25-14 with 4½ minutes left in the first half.
Villanova opened the game missing 17 of its first 22 shots, and its five starters had just nine points after 15½ minutes.
But Villanova gradually began chipping away. A Hart three just before halftime cut the lead to seven, and a Mikal Bridges three on Villanova's first possession of the second half trimmed it to four.
The Wildcats took their first lead of the game at 41-40 with 9:18 left on a Hart steal and slam.
Neither team led by more than four the rest of the way.
Hart led Villanova with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Jalen Brunson added 13 points, including two huge jumpers in the final three minutes.
What it means
Villanova improved to 30-3 and Seton Hall fell to 21-11. This is the third straight year Villanova has won 30 or more games and the fourth time in school history.
This will be Villanova's third straight appearance in the championship game and eighth overall.
The Wildcats join Syracuse (1988-90), UConn (1998-00), Pitt (2001-04) and Louisville (2011-13) as the fifth school to make three straight appearance in the title game since the tournament's inception in 1980.
Villanova also reached the title game in 1981 (lost to Syracuse), 1982 (lost to Georgetown), 1988 (lost to Syracuse), 1995 (lost to UConn) and 1997 (beat Boston College)
The win was Villanova's third this year over Seton Hall after the Wildcats lost to the Pirates last year in the Big East championship game.
Seton Hall had won its last two Big East Tournament games against Villanova, in 2014 and 2016. This was Villanova's first since a 61-60 win in the first round in 2004.
Stat of the day
Villanova's five starters combined for just nine points in the game's first 15½ minutes, shooting 4 for 18 during that span.
Sick bay
Sophomore Mikal Bridges, who missed all but the first minute of the St. John's game on Thursday with a stomach virus, started and played 25 minutes, finishing with five points.
By the numbers
• Rodriguez led Seton Hall with 14 points and Carrington added 11 

• Kris Jenkins struggled again from the field, shooting 1 for 7 and 0 for 4 from three for four points.

• Villanova shot just 5 for 18 from three 

• The Wildcats shot 27 percent from the field in the first half (7 for 26) but 59 percent in the second half (13 for 22).
What's next
Villanova will play in the Big East Conference championship game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the Creighton-Xavier game scheduled for later Friday.

Edwards leads Purdue to rout of reigning champ Villanova

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Edwards leads Purdue to rout of reigning champ Villanova

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Carsen Edwards had a career night, scoring 42 points as Purdue knocked reigning national champion Villanova out of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night in an 87-61 rout.

Matt Haarms added 18 points and nine rebounds for the third-seeded Boilermakers (25-9), who advanced to their third straight Sweet 16.

Eric Paschall had 19 for Villanova (26-10), which saw its quest for a third national title in the last four seasons end during the tournament's first weekend. Fellow senior Phil Booth scored 15 points, putting him over 1,500 for his career.

Edwards has battled a sore back and had been in a recent shooting slump, making just 7 of 23 shots from the field in Purdue's first-round win over Old Dominion. He found the bottom of the net early and often against `Nova, making 12 of his 21 shots, including nine of 16 from behind the arc.

Purdue shot 54 percent while holding Villanova to just 20 baskets on 58 shots (34 percent).

Purdue jumped out early, building a 13-point lead thanks to Edwards' outside shooting and Haarms' work down low.

The 7-foot-3 Dutchman towered over the shorter Wildcats, who didn't start anyone over 6-8. He had Purdue's first four points on a dunk and a put-back. Edwards hit five of his nine first-half shots, all of which came from three-point range.

Purdue had nine three-point baskets in the first half and a dunk by Haarms put the Boilermakers up 43-24 at intermission.

Another dunk from the Dutchman extended the lead to 35 in the second half. Villanova chipped away but the sixth seeded Big East champions did not have weapons to make it a game.

Defending champion Villanova shows its experience in NCAA Tournament first-round win over Saint Mary's

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Defending champion Villanova shows its experience in NCAA Tournament first-round win over Saint Mary's


HARTFORD, Conn. — Villanova got off to a slow start in defense of its NCAA championship against a determined, defensive-minded Saint Mary's team that came in confident after a season-defining win.

But the Wildcats, a No. 6 seed in this NCAA Tournament after an up-and-down season, have one thing no team in the field of 64 has: a pair of leaders who have won two national titles.

 NPhil Booth scored 20 points, fellow senior Eric Paschell added 14 and Villanova held off 11th-seeded Saint Mary's 61-57 on Thursday night.

"We're growing, our young guys are growing, but we have two seniors who do everything for us, on and off the court," coach Jay Wright said. "We're just so lucky to have them."

Sophomore Jermaine Sameuls added 12 points for the Wildcats (26-9), who led for almost 33 minutes, but never by more than eight points.

"The tempo was excruciating," Wright said. "We felt going in we were going to have to grind with them."

The Gaels used the same slow pace to upset Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament, and it gave them a chance against Villanova (26-9) in a tense opening-round matchup.

Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts each had 13 points for Saint Mary's (22-12). Ford's basket in the lane after a few nifty moves got the Gaels within six points at 61-55 with 34 seconds left.

After Paschell missed a foul shot on the other end, Fitts cut the deficit to four points with a leaner in the lane. The Gaels had two more chances in the final seconds, but Fitts hit the rim on a 3-point attempt and Villanova freshman Saddiq Bey stole the ball from Ford in the final seconds to seal the win.

"We had a few games this year where we put the press on and were able to get back in the game," said Ford. "And if we get a few of those loose balls, or maybe make a three when we were down four, I think it's a different game."

Saint Mary's led 30-28 at the half, but Booth scored the first five points after intermission during a 12-3 run that put the Wildcats up 40-33. He had 12 points and five of his six assists in the second half.

"We weren't doing that bad, actually," Booth said. "It was more that they were playing very well and we were trying to match how they were bringing it. I think we just had to take it to another level, because they were playing at a high level."

Big picture

Villanova: The defending champions are in the tournament for the 14th time in 15 seasons and improved to 14-1 since 2016.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels are 4-6 in opening-round games in the NCAA Tournament and 5-10 overall. Saint Mary's has advanced to the Sweet 16 once in the modern era when it beat the Wildcats in 2010. There's a reminder of that run in the hallway outside the locker room that the players see as they walk out to practice each day in McKeon Pavilion.

Empty arena

The game tipped to a relatively empty arena, but it wasn't because nobody had bought tickets.

Fans of the Wildcats, many of whom made the 4-hour drive from Philadelphia to Hartford, Connecticut, were lined up along with Gaels fans behind metal detectors as security emptied the arena from the afternoon session.

"You worry about those things, you know?" Wright said. "We have a lot of guys in the NCAA Tournament for the first time thinking, `This is the NCAA Tournament?' There's no one in the stands."

By halftime, the 16,000-seat XL Center was nearing capacity, but some frustrated fans were sill filing in.

From distance

The game was billed as a battle between one of the nation's top 3-point shooting teams in Villanova against some of the nation's best perimeter defenders. In the end, the Wildcats finished 8 of 20 from behind the arc, while Saint Mary's was 8 of 22.

On the boards

The taller Gaels won the rebounding battle 33-29 and 10-5 on the offensive end. The Wildcats didn't have an offensive board until the second half and that led to an 11-4 advantage for Saint Mary's in second-chance points. Wright said this year's team was hurt by the transfer of 6-foot-9 Dylan Painter, but is going to have to find a way against taller opponents.

Up next

Villanova will play No. 3 seed Purdue in the second round Saturday.