Villanova Falls to No. 2 UConn, 74-66, On The Road


Quinn Burns/Villanovan Photography

Caleb Daniels led Villanova with 23 points.

Owen Hewitt, Co-Sports Editor

Villanova lost to No. 2 UConn on Wednesday evening in Hartford, 74-66. The loss snaps a five-game win streak for the ‘Cats, dropping them to 7-6 overall, 1-1 in Big East play, and continues an undefeated season for the Huskies. 

Graduate guard Caleb Daniels led the ‘Cats in scoring with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Redshirt junior Eric Dixon dropped in 18 points and eight rebounds, but also had a game-high four turnovers. 

Sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins led the Huskies’ scoring effort with 22 points and seven rebounds. 

“We know we have great leadership on this team, especially with [Daniels and Dixon],” Villanova head coach Kyle Neptune said postgame. “We rely on them, especially defensively, and I thought they played a really good game there. They always lead our young guys.”

Turnovers proved to be an issue for the ‘Cats, as the team turned the ball over a season-high 18 times. The Huskies converted those turnovers into 21 points.

“They got into us with their full-court pressure defense,” Neptune said. “Just had a couple of mishaps. I thought we still had a chance to fight back after that. It just wasn’t enough.”

Both teams got off to a slow start in the opening minutes of the first half. Midway through the first period, the score stood 12-12. Both teams eventually heated up from the field, with Hawkins leading all scorers at the half with 16 points and five rebounds.

The Wildcats were able to limit the effectiveness of Preseason Big East Player of the Year Adama Sanogo in the first half, drawing the Junior forward into two fouls, and limiting him to two points in 10 minutes in the first half.

Dixon and graduate Brandon Slater both got into double figures with 10 for the ‘Cats in the first 20, but turnovers limited the effectiveness of the Wildcats’ offense. The team totaled seven turnovers in the first half.

Junior guard Andre Jackson Jr. was issued a technical foul with 3:01 left in the half after he made a three pointer and appeared to say something to Neptune. It was Jackson Jr.’s second foul of the half. 

The Huskies were able to build their lead to seven points with just over five to play in the half, but the ‘Cats cut the lead down to one going into the half. Both teams struggled from the three point line in the first, with the ‘Cats shooting 1-8 from downtown, and the Huskies shooting 6-20. 

The Huskies came out of the locker room hot, and built up a 10-point lead with a 16-2 run over a span of six minutes. From there on, the ‘Cats had to chase the game. Freshman guard Cam Whitmore picked up his third foul early in the second half, and Sanogo and Jackson Jr. both picked up their third fouls about halfway through the second half.

The second-half effort of Daniels pulled the ‘Cats to within two points with just over three-and-a-half to play in the ballgame, but the Huskies were able to pull away with a couple important buckets from Sanogo and Jackson Jr., and excellent free-throw shooting. The Huskies were 16-20 in just the second half from the charity stripe.

“I thought they really made it tough defensively.” Neptune said. “They tried to get after us and made it a tough and nasty game. I was proud of the way our guys battled. It just wasn’t enough.”

Villanova sees its next action at home against Marquette on New Year’s Eve. The Golden Eagles are coming off a commanding victory against Seton Hall, and are also 1-1 in Big East play. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 2 P.M., and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.