Villanova Holds Maryland to an All-Time Scoring Low in 57 – 40 Triumph
VILLANOVA, PA. 11/17/2023 –
When the ball went up it was part of the 2023 Dave Gavitt Tipoff Games. And it was Villanova looking for a win after losing a Big Five game to Penn earlier in the week. The Wildcats were ready and got off to an early lead. Then held the Maryland Terrapins of the Big Ten to 40 points, their lowest offensive output in the shot clock era. The quick start and the defensive effort propelled Nova to the victory. Forward Tyler Burton led the Wildcats with 15 points while TJ Bamba added 11.
“I was really proud of the way out guys competed, especially to start the game,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said. “That first five or six minutes was awesome to watch. Just the way we set the tone and thought it was what led to the victory.”
Focus on Defense
Villanova held Maryland to 15 first half points. The Terps made just 4 of 27 shots (15%) and were good on 2 of 14 from beyond the arc. For the game the ball went in their basket 12 times in 50 shots (24%) and 5 of 26 three-point attempts.
Meanwhile the Wildcats started out shooting 13 of 21 and 6 of 11 three’s. Basketball is a numbers game and those percentages accounted for the Nova 39 – 15 halftime lead. The Cats would up making 18 of 40 field goal attempts (45%) and 7 of 18 from distance (38.9%).
“That was great,” Burton said about the start for the Cats. “But my focus was on playing on the defensive end. The offense came, the offense was great. Guys knocked down shots and played well for the first twenty. Our focus was on defense tonight.”
Ready, Set, Go
The start of the game was important for Villanova, and they began with back-to-back three-pointers from Bamba and Burton. Each player added a free throw when Maryland got their first points. Over the next 10-plus minutes the Wildcats went on an 25 – 9 run for a 33 – 11 lead and control of the game.
“Villanova got after us and played well,” said Maryland coach Kevin Willard. “We didn’t respond.”
“Every game we’re going into we just want to play a full forty minutes of Villanova basketball no matter after a win or after a loss,” Neptune said. “If somehow or another we pulled that last game out, we would have been thinking the same exact thing. That’s where we want to be.”
Mikal Bridges Honored
The jersey of former Villanova Wildcat Mikal Bridges was retired in a ceremony during halftime. He was a two-time member of the national championship team. Bridges won the 2018 Julius Erving Award. Villanova retires jerseys, not numbers. His jersey will be on display in the Finneran Pavilion.
“Real special,” Bridges said about the honor. “Never thought this day would come or thought it would ever happen. It was special just being there for years. Everything we accomplished , this whole program. It’s just blessed.”
A great accomplishment for Brooklyn Nets player who came to the Main Line just looking to be a contributor.
“Wanted a degree and try to play, just trying to find minutes every year,” said Bridges. “Everything comes with playing well and winning.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian