The islands brought the heat, but Villanova managed to fend off Northern Iowa to win the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island. Defeating Northern Iowa 64-50, Villanova is now the first team to win two Battle 4 Atlantis tournaments.
The first half of the game replicated a familiar pattern for Villanova during this tournament: falling behind to reactionary plays. Though on par in the scoreboard, Northern Iowa lead the pace for the majority of the half. Taking the lead in the final minutes, UNI outshot ‘Nova from all angles, and doubled ‘Nova’s defensive rebound count. While Eric Paschall dunked for a Wildcat lead into halftime, the Panthers maintained themselves as the dominant presence on the court.
At the opening of the second half, a stalement ensued. A flurry of loose balls, turnovers, and both teams went without a basket for multiple minutes. Jalen Brunson, as he tends to do, ended the scoring drought and signaled the onset of Villanova’s re-found offense. ‘Nova began maneuvering through UNI’s stifling defense and effectively created space for clearer shot opportunities.
Mikal Bridges was ‘Nova’s top shooter and defensive force, downing a team-high of 18 points and seven rebounds. While Northern Iowa out-rebounded Villanova 37-29, UNI fell flat to turnovers, giving up 14 compared to ‘Nova’s three. Interestingly, Villanova sent UNI to the free throw a whooping total of zero times.
Now 5-0 in early season tournaments, Villanova flies back to Philadelphia to meet Penn next Wednesday at 7 p.m.