PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/2/2019 – The Villanova Wildcats looked to sustain momentum after the win over Marquette on Wednesday. And the Cats were very much in the mix for first place in the Big East, which made this game against the Butler Bulldogs important.
The first half was close, but in the second half Villanova showed a complete effort on both ends of the floor and pulled away for a 75 – 54 win at the Wells Fargo Center in their last home game of the regular season.
“Good effort and a great second half, and defensive effort,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “In the first half they hurt us, but in the second half we did a much better job defensively, and we hit shots. We’ll take it. We are surviving and advancing at this point.”
The Cats made 26 of 50 from the floor and 9 of 22 from distance. The Bulldogs after shooting 48% in the first half were held to 29% (10 for 34) in the latter twenty minutes.
Phil Booth led the way for Nova as he scored 28 points, one shy of his career-high. It was the last game he will play in the Center as a collegian.
“There are a lot of good wins here, and lot of big games played here,” Booth said. “This place is special and will mean a lot to me when I am done.”
Fellow senior Eric Paschall added 12 points. Sophomore Jermaine Samuels, coming off a career-high in points against Marquette, scored 7 points, but pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
After leading 33 – 30 at intermission, Villanova took control of the game early in the second half holding Butler scoreless for 5:29 stretching a 39 – 34 lead into 51 – 34 advantage. The Bulldogs scored the next seven points, but the Cats responded by scoring 8 of the next 9 points to lead 59 – 44 with just over 7 and a half minutes on the clock.
“We had good looks, but what hurt is they came came right down and responded,” said Butler Coach LaVall Jordan about the crucial Villanova run.
Paul Jorgensen scored a team-high 11 points and Kamar Baldwin added 10 points, the only double figures scorers for Butler.
Nova won the battle of the boards 37 – 29.
Butler falls to 15 – 14 overall and are 6 – 10 in conference.
Villanova is 22 – 8 and are 13 – 4 in the Big East, a half-game behind league leading Marquette. The Wildcats have one more regular season game at Seton Hall next Saturday.
The end of the season is near, but Nova is still tinkering trying to be the best they can be.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Wright about his team. “It shouldn’t be, but we are. But we are going in a good direction. I like how we are playing right now.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian