The #3 Villanova Wildcats took the court Saturday evening looking ready to take down a Virginia Tech Hokies team that they set up a game with 36 hours earlier before departing Mohegan Sun and heading back to Philly.
Unfortunately, Virginia Tech had other plans, handing the Wildcats an 81-73 loss in overtime.
Collin Gillespie led Villanova with 25 points, as he was the only Wildcat to find consistency on offense throughout the game, something he struggled with over Villanova’s first two games.
Villanova’s consistency issues proved problematic Saturday evening, as the Wildcats couldn’t seem to hold a lead, allowing Virginia Tech threes any time it seemed that ‘Nova was on the verge of pulling away. Villanova also struggled to do the little thing it seemingly always does, having missed the front end of multiple one-and-ones, and allowing 10 offensive rebounds for nine Virginia Tech second chance points.
Villanova had no answer throughout the game for Keve Aluma or Naheim Alleyne, who combined for 43 points on 16-26 shooting. They also had no answer for Tyrece Radford’s 13 rebounds. After looking like a National Player of the Year candidate over the first two games, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl struggled, finishing with 14 points (on 5-15 shooting) and nine rebounds.
Villanova had plenty of chances to secure the victory, including when they were up by 12 points with eight and a half minutes to go, and simply didn’t execute like we’re familiar with seeing Villanova execute.
With all of that said, it’s time to discuss the horrific officiating over the last ten seconds of the game.
Here was the situation: Following two Cartier Diarra free throws to cut Villanova’s lead to 62-61, ‘Nova inbounded the ball to Justin Moore, who was fouled, Virginia Tech’s tenth foul of the second half, as noted by both the official stat feed and ESPN broadcast graphic. Moore missed the first free throw, Virginia Tech got the rebound as if it were a one-and-one, and... no one stopped them. The game just carried on.
Not that it matters now but I just went back and double checked and the foul on by Cartier Diarra on Justin Moore, when Moore missed the FT and Tech went down and took the lead, was VaTech's tenth of the half. Should have been a double bonus— Big East Coast Bias (@becb_sbn) November 29, 2020
The Hokies pushed the ball up to Aluma, who sunk a lay-up and was fouled. He hit the free throw and put Virginia Tech up 64-62 with 1.3 seconds to go. Villanova, with no timeouts, drew a foul before inbounding the ball, which the referees originally called against the Wildcats but then determined “they pointed the wrong way” and Moore went to the line, hitting two free throws and tying the game at 64, sending it to overtime.
There’s a lot to unpack there. Once again, I want to reiterate that Villanova had plenty of chances to win the game prior to these events and let it slip away. I also realize Villanova isn’t the type of program that will garner sympathy for a bad call going against them, but if Moore gets a second free throw, and is able to knock it down, there’s a good chance that final Virginia Tech possession goes very differently than being able to push a go-ahead layup in transition. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for the referees to do the simple parts of their jobs, both keeping track of how many fouls each team has and pointing the right way on foul calls, correctly.
Overtime was all Virginia Tech, as they outscored Villanova, 17-9, over the final five minutes to complete the upset.
Villanova returns to action Wednesday against St. Joseph’s in their home opener.