Wildcats no good in OT

Nate McGann

If there’s one thing Villanova could have asked for in the waning seconds of an overtime game against West Virginia and the Wildcats trailing by two, it was having Scottie Reynolds with the ball and a chance to make the game-winning 3-pointer. The ‘Nova faithful have grown accustomed to watching Reynolds deliver victories late in games.

On Saturday, he couldn’t answer the call.

No. 10 Villanova fell to No. 8 West Virginia 68-66 in the final regular season game for both teams. With just over five seconds remaining in overtime, senior guard Reggie Redding found an open Reynolds on the wing. Reynolds, playing in his final game in Philadelphia, had another opportunity to cement his legacy on the Main Line, but his shot bounced off the rim. The Wildcats’ late season struggles continued.

“[The defender] just had a hand in my face and they’re very long,” Reynolds said after the game. “It was two great teams battling each other. They just made another play better than we did.”

Reynolds, who finished with a team-high 17 points, struggled to find his shooting stroke the entire afternoon. Of the nine shots he took from beyond the arc, he made only one and was 5-19 overall from the field.

The game had serious implications for this week’s Big East tournament. A victory would have solidified the No. 2 overall seed, but with the loss Villanova fell to the No. 4 seed. 

A failure to hit the game winning shot may have also cost Reynolds Big East Player of the Year honors, which went to Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson.

The Wildcats continued a troubling trend of giving up double-digit leads in the second half of games. While the first half wasn’t exactly the prettiest of contests, Villanova held a 29-16 lead and showed for the first time in a while that it could play defense. 

That is until halftime was over, and West Virginia proceeded to score 44 points, led by senior forward Da’Sean Butler’s 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Junior guard Corey Fisher showed some heroics late in regulation. With 7.7 seconds left in the game, Fisher hit a deep 3-pointer to even the score at 60 apiece. It was his only made shot from that range.

But once again, Butler proved to be too much for the Wildcats. He hit what amounted to be the game-winning bank-shot after Villanova was forced into a shot clock violation.

“I was in the air, pulled up, put it on the glass and I prayed,” Butler said. “With the angle it hit the backboard I knew it was in.”

Head Coach Jay Wright was just as impressed.

“Butler made a hell of a running bank shot,” Wright said.

After opening its conference schedule an impressive 9-0, Villanova finished the season 4-5. The offense that had served them so well has seemingly disappeared. The Wildcats haven’t eclipsed the 80-point plateau in any of their past eight games.

While things may appear to be falling apart, Reynolds and the team know that the end is still far off in the distance. 

They take the court tonight for their Big East tournament opener and have already locked up a high seed in the NCAA tournament. Reynolds will need every game possible if he hopes to become the program’s all-time leading scorer and a member of the winningest class in school history.

The West Virginia loss, although painful, was nothing more than another Big East battle and the Wildcats fell just short.

“Reggie Redding found Scottie at the end, and he just didn’t make it,” Wright said.  “It’s the Big East. Now we just have to get ready for [tonight].”