Villanova Struggles From Field, Bests Butler, 62-50 on Senior Night


Graydon Paul/Villanovan Photgraphy

Three seniors were honored before the game against Butler

Brooke Ackerman, Co-Sports Editor

Sometimes games can electrify an arena. Sometimes games are used to rack up the stat sheet. In Villanova’s Senior Night matchup over Butler, all the Wildcats did was accomplish an uneventful win — and sometimes, that’s just enough. 

The 62-50 win over the Bulldogs (13-14, 5-11 Big East) tonight brought the Wildcats back to a .500 overall record and a 7-8 in-conference record. However, the win was far from pretty. 

Normally when a game is close, teams have a tendency to trade baskets. In the first half, the two squads did nothing more than trading shot attempts. 

In the first 20 minutes of play, the Wildcats went 9 for 26 from the field and shot 25% from the three point line, while Butler went 11 for 28 from the field and shot 18% from three. 

“We talk to our guys all the time… you’re not gonna make every shot,” head coach Kyle Neptune said. “I think the mark of a good team is when you can get it done and win a game when you’re not making shots.” 

In an effort to compensate for the tough shooting night, senior captain Justin Moore noted how the team takes pride in defense.

“That’s going to carry us,” Moore said, “and just [continuing] to take our shots and be aggressive.” 

The Wildcats closed out the first half ahead, 25-24, and headed into the second half trying to embody that aggressive mindset. 

For the first 15 minutes of the second half, play was back and forth, with three lead changes in the first 10 minutes.

But it was graduate guard Caleb Daniels who aided in shifting the energy of the game. With just under ten minutes left, Daniels hit threes on back to back possessions, bringing life back into the Finn.  

“It felt really good,” Daniels said. “I credit my teammates for just finding me in transition, finding me in the open spots, and trusting me to make those shots.” 

While Daniels did contribute to a shift in the game for the Wildcats, the last five minutes of play was indeed led by Villanova, but completely dominated by messy basketball. 

In just one minute of play, the two teams combined for four turnovers. Forwards Cam Whitmore and Eric Dixon had turnovers, but Butler gave the ball back with two turnovers as well. 

Villanova went on a run to clinch the game in the final five minutes, but there was nothing special until Villanova’s final field goal. Graduate forward Brandon Slater had a monstrous slam dunk, a SportsCenter-esque dunk that Daniels said almost made him “fall over on the court”, but the rest of the game was a struggle offensively. 

However, it was a special night, as Villanova celebrated its Senior Night in the final Finneran Pavilion matchup of the season. Before the game, seniors Dixon, Moore, and Chris Arcidiacano were celebrated at half court for their success as Wildcats. 

The Wildcats will head to Rhode Island to take on Providence on Saturday, Feb. 18. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m. at Amica Mutual Pavilion.