Villanova Wildcats

Villanova's Josh Hart named Big East Player of the Year

Villanova's Josh Hart named Big East Player of the Year

Villanova’s Josh Hart has plenty of awards to his name and now he can add Big East Player of the Year to the list. The senior guard received the honor Wednesday afternoon.

After he was named preseason player of the year in the Big East, Hart responded by leading the conference in points per game (18.7). He's shot 50.7 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from three.

The Maryland native was fourth in the Big East in rebounds per game (6.5) and sixth in steals (1.5). 

Hart and teammate Jalen Brunson were also unanimously voted to the All-Big East first team, the second straight year for Hart.
    
Bruson, a sophomore, was second in the Big East in assists per game (4.3) and averaged 14.8 points.

Villanova had the best scoring defense in the Big East, allowing only 63.1 points per game. This was thanks in part to Mikal Bridges and Hart, who are sharing the Big East Defensive Player Award with Creighton’s Khyri Thomas. This is the first time the conference has allowed three players to share the accolade.  

Big East player of the Year is a nice honor but Hart has a chance to be recognized as the top college basketball player in the nation. The 6-foot-5 guard was named to a list of 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, college basketball’s highest honor.

Hart is the only player from the Big East to be named a finalist. The winner will be announced March 27 on ESPN at 8 p.m.

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association also recognized Hart and Villanova’s head coach Jay Wright as Player of the Year and Coach of the Year for District II.

District II covers schools in the following states: New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Wright, who reached 500 wins this season, shared the Big East Coach of the Year award in 2016 with Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard. Wright is the first coach to receive the award three seasons in a row (2014-16).

In addition, Wright took home the Naismith National Coach of the Year award in 2016, which he also received in 2006.

On Thursday at noon, the Wildcats will play the winner of Wednesday's matchup between 8-seed St. John’s and 9-seed Georgetown (7 p.m./FS1).

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.