November 28, 2020 –
This game was not on the Villanova schedule two days ago. Virginia Tech was there to play in the Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Uncasville, now known as Bubbleville, to play the Temple Owls. But Temple had to pause their men’s basketball program for 14 days due to COVID-19. After late night discussions, Villanova was given the chance to play the game. The Cats wanted to play, so they did. In their third game the #3 Wildcats lost 81 – 73 in overtime to the Virginia Tech Hokies who have upset the number three team in the nation for the second consecutive season.
Despite the quick turn around Villanova felt ready for the challenge.
“I think we handled it pretty well,” said Collin Gillespie who scored a game-high 25 points. “We didn’t know if we were going to play or not right after our last game a few nights ago. This was good for us. It was a learning experience playing a great team in Virginia Tech. Our guys will learn and grow from this.”
The Wildcats were in control and moved out to a 52 – 40 lead with 8:48 left in regulation. The Hokies started their comeback, and eventually took a two-point lead with 1.3 ticks in regulation. Then it got wild.
Keve Almura made they layup off a feed from Cartier Diarra which gave the Hokies a 63 – 62 lead. He was fouled and went to the line. The expectation was that he would miss the shot and Villanova could not get a good shot away. Almura banked it it making it 64 – 62. On the inbounds play Wildcats guard Justin Moore took a charge from Justyn Mutts and was awarded two free throws. Moore made both, and the game would need another five minutes. It was the chance for Villanova to take back the momentum.
“You play it to the last second and give yourself a chance in overtime,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “Justin Moore hit two big free throws. You’ve got to come out at the start of overtime with some intensity and take it to another level which we didn’t do.”
Virginia Tech got the first five points in the extra five started by a three-pointer by Mutts. Villanova got no closer than two-points the rest of the way. Those little things hurt.
“We gave up a three right away, we didn’t get up and pressure the ball, we just gave up a three,” Wright said. “Those little things against a good team you’re not going to make up for.”
Lost in the result was the performance of Gillespie. He made 8 of 14 shots and was 4 of 7 from beyond the arc while handing out 4 assists. Caleb Daniels added 17 points for the Wildcats, his career-best at Villanova. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was contained for most of the game, but ended up with 14 points and a team-best 9 rebounds. What really hurt Nova was going 12 for 17 from the free throw line, making 7 of 12 in the second half.
The Hokies got a team-best 23 points from Aluma who also took down 8 rebounds. Nahiem Alleyne scored 20 points, and Mutts, a transfer from Delaware, contributed 12 points.
Villanova accepted the challenge wanting to learn. Wright found some teaching points in the three games in Uncasville, especially those little things.
“We played three really good teams and because Virginia Tech did so many things well execution wise, it exposed us,” Wright said. “That’s how young guys learn unfortunately.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian