Villanova Wildcats

Villanova surges past West Virginia to reach Elite Eight

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Villanova surges past West Virginia to reach Elite Eight

BOX SCORE

BOSTON -- Villanova's 3-point party rolled past the intense pressure of West Virginia to bring the Wildcats to the doorstep of another Final Four two seasons after winning a national championship.

The top-seeded Wildcats continued their outside feast in the NCAA Tournament, downing the fifth-seeded Mountaineers 90-78 on Friday night to earn their second trip to the regional finals in three seasons.

Jalen Brunson led Villanova with 27 points and Omari Spellman had 18 with eight rebounds as Villanova overcame the West Virginia press by hitting 13 of 24 shots from 3-point range.

Daxter Miles had 16 points to lead West Virginia. Jevon Carter and Sagaba Konate added 12 each.

Villanova (33-4) has now made 44 3-pointers for the tournament. The outside barrage helped the Wildcats overcome 16 turnovers and played into their Sweet 16 plan for their opponents nicknamed "Press Virginia": Attack the stifling defense head-on.

"What a game, man. I hope that looked as good as it did from the bench, man," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "That was the most physically demanding, mentally draining 40 minutes we've played in a long time. They are so relentless."

The Wildcats struggled at times, especially in the first half, but dug out of a six-point hole in the second half with an 11-0 run.

The Mountaineers (26-11) stayed close throughout, ramping up the pressure and making Villanova play faster than it wanted to early. But foul trouble throughout the second half was too much for West Virginia to overcome after it gave up the lead.

Carter was called for his third with 17:33 left in the game. That was followed by Miles being whistled for his third and fourth fouls over a two minute stretch that sent him to the bench with 15 minutes remaining.

Coach Bob Huggins said the fouls "absolutely" stifled the Mountaineers' ability to keep pressure on Villanova.

"When the whistle keeps blowing it really takes away your aggression," he said.

West Virginia adjusted for a while, taking advantage of a more than three-minute Villanova scoring drought to take a 60-54 edge with just over 11 minutes left.

But Villanova heated up again. Its 11-point run was capped by a thunderous block and dunk on the other end by Omari Spellman that pushed the Wildcats back in front 65-60.

The Wildcats kept the momentum going, stretching the lead to 76-66 on a 3-pointer by Brunson.

"The deeper you go, the better the teams are going to be," Brunson said. "For us, most importantly, nothing changes no matter who we play, where we play, what time we play. We play every game like it's our last."

West Virginia never got closer than 4 points the rest of the way.

"I felt like we gave it everything we had," Carter said. "We just didn't make shots tonight and Villanova did."

Villanova led 44-42 at the half after a fast-paced opening 20 minutes. Brunson led all scorers with 16 points in the half, with West Virginia getting 11 points from Daxter Miles.

The Wildcats came out firing, connecting on their first seven field goals. They handled the Mountaineers' pressure well early. But the Wildcats had three turnovers over a 65-second stretch during an 8-0 Mountaineers run that put them in front 33-30.

Wright said he never lost faith in his team.

"I just looked at Jalen, Mikal (Bridges) and Phil (Booth) and I could see in their eyes we were good," he said.

Big picture
West Virginia: It's a tough loss for the Mountaineers, but it doesn't diminish the incredible effort by a senior class that reached the Sweet 16 three times in four years.

Villanova: The Wildcats are primed for another title run with their talent led by player of the year contender Brunson, the experience of the 2016 title and the lessons learned from early tournament departures in several years, including a second-round loss to Wisconsin last year.

Milestone watch
The Wildcats' 13 3-pointers give them 432 for the season, putting them 11 away from a Division I record. VMI hit 442 3-pointers in 2006-07.

No regrets
Despite the outcome, Carter said he is proud of his classmates' four-year run. Friday's game marked the 10th career NCAA Tournament game for Carter and Miles -- tying them for the most in school history.

Carter said the tournament will always mean a lot to both of them.

"It's everything. Everybody is in tune with March Madness. I feel like it's bigger than the NBA playoffs," he said. "Anything can happen in March. ... Unfortunately we lost in the Sweet 16."

Up next
Villanova will face Texas Tech in Sunday's regional final.

No. 8 Villanova stunned by Furman in OT

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No. 8 Villanova stunned by Furman in OT

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- First, it was Loyola. Next came Villanova.

One by one, Furman is picking off teams from last year's Final Four and proving to be the surprise story of the first month of the college basketball season.

Jordan Lyons scored 17 points, Matt Rafferty had 15 points and 17 rebounds, and Furman stunned the defending national champion and eighth-ranked Wildcats in overtime, 76-68 on Saturday.

"We're just tiny old Furman," coach Bob Richey said. "Most people ask us what state we're in, what city we're in. Now all of a sudden people are starting to figure out who Furman is."

If opponents and fans aren't paying attention to the team from Greenville, South Carolina, they'd better start now.

Clay Mounce added 15 points and Noah Gurley and Alex Hunter scored 13 apiece for the surging Paladins, who have started 5-0 for the first time in 30 years.

Lyons and Rafferty delivered huge buckets in overtime to key a 7-0 spurt that put the Paladins ahead 69-63 in the final minute, enough cushion for them to hang on for the victory in front of a shocked sellout crowd at the recently renovated Finneran Pavilion.

"It almost can bring me to tears to think about how proud I am of the resolve, the resiliency and the fight this team has," Richey said. "They play together, they play connected. It's the definition of a team."

Phil Booth scored 20 points and Colin Gillespie had 19 for the Wildcats (2-2), who were coming off a 27-point loss to Michigan in a rematch of April's national championship game. It marked the first time Villanova lost back-to-back games since March of 2013.

"It's not that shocking, to be honest," Booth said. "They're a very good team. We're still a young team trying to find our way."

Trailing 58-53 with under four minutes to play in regulation, Joe Cremo hit a 3-pointer, Booth scored and Gillespie made a layup in transition to put Villanova in front, 60-58, in the final minute.

After Lyons hit two free throws to tie the game at 60, Booth missed on the other end and Hunter misfired on a long 3-pointer in the final seconds. Cremo was called for a foul while going for the rebound, but Rafferty couldn't connect on the front end of a 1-and-1 with 2.6 seconds left, setting the game up for OT.

Rafferty said his teammates picked him up and told him to make up for the missed free throw in overtime - which he did.

"This was incredible," Rafferty said. "I've never been a part of something like this."

Villanova beats Quinnipiac, cruises to another win ahead of test vs. Michigan

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Villanova beats Quinnipiac, cruises to another win ahead of test vs. Michigan

Updated: 12:13 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Having been a part of the coaching staff that brought Phil Booth to Villanova, Quinnipiac coach Baker Dunleavy knows exactly what the Villanova senior is capable of.

"He's every bit as good as any player in the country and I think he'll show that this year," Dunleavy said.

Booth scored a career-best 23 points in No. 9 Villanova's 86-53 victory over Quinnipiac on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center, where a 2018 national championship banner was raised.

Booth, a senior, made three of his six attempts from beyond the arc and shot 7 for 16 overall. He added three rebounds and five assists. Booth missed most of 2016-17 with knee issues and part of last season with a hand injury. He's now averaging 20 a game through two contests.

Villanova (2-0) led by double digits from the 13:10 mark of the first half onward and led by as many as 37. The Wildcats out-rebounded Quinnipiac, 50-29, and grabbed 20 off the offensive glass, leading to 26 second chance points.

Dunleavy, who played at Villanova and was on the team's coaching staff from 2010 to 2017, told Villanova coach Jay Wright that he knew the "buzz-saw" was coming after watching the tape from Villanova's season opening win against Morgan State.

"We really wanted to come in here and build confidence by playing this game," Dunleavy said "It's hard to do that when you get jumped on early and that's what happened."

Quinnipiac made one of its first 11 attempts from the floor, allowing Villanova to build an early 18-3 lead less than 10 minutes into the game. Villanova, which shot 7 of 15 from beyond the three-point arc in the first half, got a three pointer from freshman Saddiq Bey before the first half buzzer sounded to take a 47-20 lead into halftime.

The Wildcats, at that point, had more points on three pointers than the Bobcats had total points. Villanova forced nine first half turnovers.

"Our full-court pressure really did a good job," Wright said.

Joining Booth in double figures for the Wildcats were sophomore guard Collin Gillespie, who shot 4 of 6 from deep and finished 16 points, and senior forward Eric Paschall, who scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and added eight rebounds and three assists.

Cameron Young's 18 points paced Quinnipiac.

Homecoming
Dunleavy played at Villanova in the early 2000s under Wright and later joined his coaching staff in 2010. In his second season at Quinnipiac, Saturday marked the first time Dunleavy faced his former mentor.

"It's fun to see all those guys, but not under these circumstances," Dunleavy said. "This is a one time thing."

Wright said it wasn't particularly comfortable for him, too.

"It seemed like a good idea when we talked about it, but then when it comes the week before and I'm watching film of them do what we do, I said to our team, whatever play we call, they know everything we do," Wright said. "It's going to be tough to run specific plays. I didn't particularly enjoy it, really."

Big picture
Quinnipiac: In their season debut, the Bobcats got behind early and couldn't recover against their elite opponent. A less daunting stretch of nonconference games awaits.

Villanova: In a warmup before playing No. 19 Michigan at their newly renovated on-campus stadium, the Wildcats showed off their deep but relatively young rotation for the second consecutive game.

"We weren't thinking about Wednesday coming into this game," Booth said. "We were thinking about Quinnipiac. That was our main focus. Now it's time to get ready for Michigan."

Up next
Quinnipiac: Hosts Hartford on Thursday night.

Villanova: Hosts No. 19 Michigan on Wednesday night.