Snapping a three-game losing streak to the Bulldogs, and narrowly avoiding their first back-to-back loss since 2013, ‘Nova pulled through Butler’s wild shooting and fought to the finish for the W.
However, the first half of the game can be accurately summed up in one name: Kelan Martin. Martin dropped a whopping 17 points for Butler in the first half, and even more impressively, went 5-6 in three-point shooting. Unable to muster up their offense, the Wildcats were consistently trailing the Bulldogs. Still down two starters (Phil Booth and Eric Paschall), any time ‘Nova seemed to gain momentum, there was Kelan Martin with a fierce response.
Thanks to a last minute three-pointer by freshman Collin Gillespie, Villanova managed to escape the first half only down by three points. Charged up during halftime, the Wildcats entered the second half with a far stronger sense of shooting purpose. Unfazed by Butler’s 55% FG shooting, coach Jay Wright’s team began dropping notable numbers of their own.
Donte DiVincenzo, playing a full 40 minutes, ended the game as the Wildcats’ offensive beacon of hope. Dropping a career high 30 points, the sophomore picked up 20 of the points in the second half and fueled ‘Nova's comeback. National Player of the Year hopeful Jalen Brunson joined DiVincenzo in padding up Villanova’s shooting, dropping 27 points of his own.
Finishing the game in a stronger manner than they started it, Villanova shot 51% of their FGs and 33% of 3FGs. To Butler’s credit, while the Bulldogs’ field goal shooting dipped to 44%, Butler still outshone ‘Nova from the beyond the arc. Lead by Martin’s 30 points and 8-12 three-pointers, the Bulldogs shot an overall 41% of 3FGs.
Villanova moves on to play Providence this Wednesday in Rhode Island, and Butler greets Georgetown on Tuesday at home in Indianapolis.