November 25, 2020 –
The # 3 Villanova Wildcats opened the season against the Boston College Eagles at the 2K Empire Sports Classic in Uncasville, CT. The victory required a second half comeback as the Wildcats erased a 9-point Eagles lead to earn a 76 – 67 victory. Villanova will face Arizona State in the championship round on Thursday night.
The key to the victory was the play of sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl who scored a game-high 18 points and took down 10 rebounds for his 10th career double-double.
“We just keep playing hard and don’t let the score dictate how we play,” said Robinson-Earl about the comeback. “We just keep playing hard for a full forty minutes. It’s a long game so there is time to get stops, be patient on offense, and stay together.”
This was the first time the former Big East rivals played each other. Boston College was able to get the ball inside and limited the three-point shooting of Villanova to get a 57 – 48 lead with just under 13 minutes to play. The lead was erased when the Cats went on an 15 – 4 run taking the lead at 63 – 61 on a three-pointer by Justin Moore with just over six minutes on the clock. Nova closed it out making four straight field goals, three by Robinson-Earl. The defense did not give up a basket to BC over the last 3:59 of the game.
Credit the presence of Robinson-Earl. His inside presence gave Nova energy and more options on offense.
“We were struggling against their zone and weren’t getting the ball inside,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “Jeremiah did a great job of freeing himself. Jeremiah started going to work. When he went inside, they didn’t help, they stayed matched up on the perimeter, and gave Jeremiah one-on-ones. He did a great job.”
Colin Gillespie added 15 points and reached the 1,000 career-point plateau. He also had a game-high 7 assists. Moore and transfer Caleb Daniels added 14 points each in a good debut for Daniels.
“He did a great job on defense and was intelligent on offense,” Wright said about the play of Daniels. “For his first game he was really outstanding.”
Jermaine Samuels pulled down 9 rebounds.
Boston College got a team-best 16 points from Jay Heath. Makai Ashton-Langfor added 15 points and Wynston Tabbs scored 11 points. Steffon Mitchell had a game-high 11 boards.
Villanova and Arizona State advance to the final. Arizona State defeated Rhode Island 94 – 86 in a shootout. Villanova needs to rely on the experience of their leaders to get another win.
Written By: Glenn Papazian