The Villanova Wildcats (11-1, 5-0) defeated their conference rival Seton Hall Pirates (9-8, 6-5) by a final score of 80-72 Saturday afternoon in Newark, NJ.
This meeting marked the second of two between the teams this year, with Villanova prevailing victorious in both contests. The Cats were led by Sophomore standout Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, scoring 23 points and adding five rebounds despite playing only six minutes in the second half. Jermaine Samuels continued his hot streak, netting 17 points on a modest 6-8 shooting from the field. On the other side, the Seton Hall Pirates boasted four players in double-figure scoring, led by Shavar Reynolds’ 13 point outing.
The Wildcats got up early on the Pirates, building a double digit first half lead that they rode all the way into the halftime break. The Wildcats then came out of the break looking sharp, and grew their lead to 16 points with less than nine minutes to go in regulation. With their back against the wall, Kevin Willard’s Pirates never gave up. After turning up the defensive pressure, the Pirates cut the lead all the way down to six points, with 20 seconds to go. In the end the Pirates efforts fell short, and Villanova ultimately triumphed to victory.
For Villanova, this comes as their second victory in the last twelve days against Seton Hall and their third victory total this month, in as many games. They played a complete game on both ends with palpable defensive contributions all around. Although Seton Hall has struggled of late, this is still an impressive victory for the Wildcats. Traditionally, Villanova has sported mostly ‘smaller’ lineups, and this year is no exception. While Seton Hall has the third tallest team across all of college basketball, Robinson-Earl and the Wildcats were able to dominate the paint, outscoring the Pirates by a tally of 36-12. That paired with the fact that Seton Hall has played five more games than Villanova this year, should have Jay Wright’s Wildcats, as well as the rest of the #NovaNation feeling good coming back to the Main Line.
As for the Pirates, this loss comes as their fourth in the last five contests and likely leaves them on the outside looking in to the NCAA Tournament this March. Although they have played arguably one of the toughest schedules in the country, they have yet to earn a signature victory to put on their resume. No team has ever made the dance at one game above .500, which is where the Pirates currently sit. However while it may look like the sky is falling for Kevin Willard’s Pirates, all hope is not lost yet. There is a lot of basketball to be played on a less vigorous schedule the remainder of the season, leaving the Pirates in the drivers seat of the own destiny the rest of the way. The fire and fight they displayed late in the game to make it competitive down the stretch should tell you a lot about the attitude and heart of this team going forward, and make for an intriguing end to a turbulent season.
Villanova: at Saint John’s (10-7, 4-6) 9:00pm Wednesday 2/3 on CBSS
Seton Hall: at Providence (9-8, 5-6) 7:00pm Wednesday 2/3 on FS1