Villanova Plays With Justin Moore, Collin Gillespie Injured in the Game
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/5/2022 –
The Villanova Wildcats came into the game without their second leading scorer Justin Moore who was injured in their game at Marquette. Time for all of the team members to be ready to go, and they were as #12 Villanova defeats the 17th ranked UConn Huskies 85 – 74 at the Wells Fargo Center. That mentality was even further tested as the Cats leader Collin Gillespie went down in the second half with a right ankle injury.
Who came up big? The Wildcats frontline in Eric Dixon who scored a career-high 24 points and took down a collegiate-best 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Caleb Daniels contributed 19 points all within the arc. The offense that centered around driving and posting up carried the Cats.
“Eric did an amazing job of posting and sealing,” Villanova Coach Jay Wright said. “In the first half when we created our distance Caleb was strong driving the ball. Both of these guy’s were really effective that way.”
Dixon made 10 of 15 from the floor and sank all four three throws, all within the concept of the offense.
“It was in the flow,” said Dixon. “They were taking away the three’s, guarding our guards. I’ve got great teammates around me.”
In the paint Villanova took a 46 – 30 advantage. Nova took 11 three-pointers and made 6, and Gillespie nailed 4 of them on the way to 19 points. This also helped to give the Cats a 52.9% shooting percentage.
With 6:54 to play the Wildcats held a 67 – 53 lead. UConn guard David Hawkins rose up for a three, and made it. Gillespie, guarding, came down on Hawkins’ foot, injuring his right ankle. The extent of the injury is unknown at this time. Gillespie did not return to the game.
Villanova turned to Chris Arcidiacono, Caleb Daniels, and some of Jermaine Samuels to withstand the pressure UConn put on them. The lead would shrink to 10 points. The Wildcats put the game away at the free throw line making their last 10 consecutive. From the free throw line the Wildcats made 21 of 22.
“We just wanted to be there for our brother (Gillespie),” Daniels said. “There was time left in the game, but we wanted to show him we have his back. We stuck together.”
Arcidiacono set a collegiate-high 9 points and was 4 for 4 from the charity stripe. Jermaine Samuels contributed 6 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds.
RJ Cole headed Connecticut scoring a game-high high 25 points. Adama Sonogo, plagued by first half foul trouble, contributed 14 points along with Tyrese Martin.
The Huskies fall to 15 – 6 overall, 6 – 4 in conference. The Wildcats improves to 17 – 6, 10 – 3 in the Big East. Connecticut came into the game in third place and will fall behind Marquette. Nova remains in second place.
“When you get a lead in a Big East game, no one is going to quit,” said Wright. “They’ll keep coming at you. We weathered the storm and I’m proud of our guys. A Big East victory, we take them any way we can get them.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian