The Villanova Wildcats were winners on Saturday afternoon.
‘Nova, who entered 16-6 and 9-3 in Big East play, walked away victorious from a battle with rival UConn. The 85-74 win came at the good ol’ Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, their second game played at the venue this season.
These teams went blow for blow in the first 10 minutes. The Wildcats had a small 18-16 lead after that chunk of time but then began to put the clamps on. Over the next 20 minutes of game action, they allowed just 28 points to be scored to their 45. That middle 20 truly tipped the scales considering UConn rallied for 30 points in the final 10 minutes. But even with those 30 to Villanova’s 22, they were still outpaced by double digits.
RJ Cole led all scorers with 25 but Eric Dixon wasn’t too far behind. The ‘Nova sophomore had 24 points and went 10-of-14 on 2’s and 4-for-4 from the line. Dixon also contributed 12 rebounds, four assists, a block, and a steal. He committed only two turnovers in 32 minutes of action.
Collin Gillespie scored 19 points in 26 minutes of action. Gillespie left the game temporarily after appearing to fall on his ankle following a 3-point shot attempt. Gillespie is set to have X-rays on his ankle following the injury.
Caleb Daniels and Brandon Slater added 16 and 11 points, respectively. Chris Arcidiacono fell one point shy of double figures, scoring nine.
UConn was led by a prodigious effort from the aforementioned RJ Cole. Cole scored 25 points and went 9-for-9 on free throw attempts. Adama Sanogo and Tyrese Martin each chipped in 14 points apiece. But scoring was otherwise hard to come by. Jordan Hawkins scored nine points off the bench but no one else could match the freshman’s output. No other Husky scored more than six points on the afternoon which proved to be a major difference-maker.
Villanova will pivot to a road clash with St. John’s on Tuesday. UConn, meanwhile, hopes to avoid a three-game losing streak. But they will have to extinguish red-hot Marquette who’s won eight of their last nine games. That game will also be played on Tuesday.