Photo: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Villanova falls to Wisconsin, West Virginia advances

#1 Overall Seed Upset

Pat Malacaro
March 18, 2017 - 2:53 pm
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The Wisconsin Badgers ended Villanova’s chance at repeating as NCAA Tournament champions by knocking off the #1 overall seed in the tournament with a 65-62 win over the Wildcats. In the day’s first game Notre Dame could not overcome a sloppy start to the game that resulted in a ten-point deficit against West Virginia. The Mountaineers defeated the Irish 83-71 in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon at KeyBank Center.

The Irish were able to limit their turnovers on Thursday to just six in their win over Princeton, but committed ten in the opening half.  Nicknamed “Press” Virginia, the Mountaineers capitalized with eleven points off of the turnovers. They never allowed Notre Dame to get within a single possession after the opening moments of the game. Jevon Carter led all scorers with 13 points in the half, while Daxter Miles Jr. added nine points. Carter finished the game with 24 points for West Virginia.

Bonzie Colson was in foul trouble for much of the game, but controlled the offense for Notre Dame. The junior led all scorers with 27 points in the losing effort. V.J. Beachem struggled from the field all game long, shooting just 2-14 from the field, and just 1-9 from behind the three point line. Four of Beachem’s nine points came at the free throw line, where he went 4-4.

Several times in the second half the Irish cut their deficit to four points, but WVU would convert on consecutive baskets to extend the lead back to three possessions. The Irish committed just four turnovers in the second half, finishing with 14 total for the game.

Midway through the second half Colson scored five consecutive points to cut the ND deficit to 48-44, but back-to-back three point baskets helped the Mountaineers go on a 8-3 scoring run and help put the Irish away for good.

Five different West Virginia players scored in double figures, led by Carter’s 24 in 37 minutes. Miles Jr. scored 18, while Tarik Phillip added 12 off of the bench. West Virginia was able to out-rebound the Irish 34-28 overall, including a 24-20 advantage defensively.

The Mountaineers now advance to the Sweet 16, and will play the winner of Gonzaga-Northwestern on Thursday night in San Jose, CA.

The top-seed in the East Region scored quickly to jump in front of the eight-seed Badgers, but a 9-0 outburst from Wisconsin gave the team the lead. They would play from ahead against Villanova for much of the first half, with Bronson Koenig and Vitto Brown each scoring nine points.

Josh Hart led the Wildcats, and all players, in scoring with ten points in the opening half. Villanova capitalized on eight Wisconsin turnovers with twelve of their 27 first half points. Hart committed three of the team’s four first half turnovers, however.

Koenig picked up two quick fouls at the start of the second half and sat for nearly eight minutes with four fouls. In that stretch the Wildcats outscored Wisconsin by just two points, 15-13. The senior scored eight of Wisconsin’s final 15 points of the game. The Badgers went on a 15-8 scoring run over the game’s final 5:31.

Nigel Hayes led Wisconsin with 19 points in the game, and helped the team score 32 points in the paint against Villanova. He added eight rebounds in the win as well. Hart also had 19 points in the losing effort, and Donte DiVincenzo again came off the bench for the Wildcats to contribute. The redshirt freshman added 15 points, including 3-4 from behind the three point line.  

The lead changed four times in the game’s final three minutes, and the score tied 62-62 with :36.4 remaining in the second half thanks to a DiVincenzo  free throw. Hayes scored the game-winning points with a layup converted with less than twelve seconds to go in regulation. Brown made one of two free throw attempts with seconds remaining in the game to help clinch the victory.