Villanova Escapes From Seton Hall, 76-72


Graydon Paul/Villanovan Photography

The Wildcats went 22-23 from the free throw line in Newark Tuesday night.

Elijah McDow, Staff Writer

After a big win against No. 19 Creighton on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, the men’s basketball team took the court Tuesday night in Newark against Seton Hall, looking to extend a two-game win streak. The game was tightly contested, but after a hard-fought battle, Villanova escaped from the Prudential Center with a 76-72 win.  

The win improves the Wildcats to 16-14 overall and 10-9 in Big East play. It also secures the six seed in the Big East tournament for the Wildcats. 

Senior guard Justin Moore led the way with 23 points, followed closely by 19 from freshman forward Cam Whitmore and 18 from redshirt junior forward Eric Dixon. 

The game was fast paced in the opening minutes of the first half. Whitmore opened the scoring with a floater, but his bucket was met with back-to-back threes from Seton Hall.  

After posting a career-high on Saturday, Dixon picked up right where he left off. His first basket was a hook shot from inside the paint followed by a three just before the shot clock expired.  

Moore also got going early, scoring a three to narrow Seton Hall’s early lead to one. 

Coming off the bench earlier than usual, freshman guard Brendan Hausen’s presence was instantly impactful. With his first touch of the game, Hausen scored the Wildcats third three of the first half to help them take the lead.  

The Pirates’ offense would heat up, as they made some big shots to regain a 29-25 lead.  

The Pirates’ run forced head coach Kyle Neptune to call a timeout before things got out of hand. Straight out of the timeout, Moore and Whitmore both answered the call. Moore scored six quick points and Whitmore nailed a three.  

With about four minutes before the halftime break, it looked as if the Wildcats were back in control, but this relief was short-lived. Seton Hall quickly responded, continuing the shot-making they displayed before Neptune’s timeout. At halftime, the ‘Cats trailed, 37-34. 

Whitmore was the Wildcats’ leading scorer at the half with 11 points, along with two rebounds and an assist.  

The Wildcats were aggressive coming out of the halftime break, committing five quick fouls in the first four minutes of the half. There were three total fouls between both teams in the first half. 

The Wildcats forced an early shot clock violation from the Pirates, who had yet to make a second half field goal at the second half’s first media timeout.  

For much of the second half, the game remained neck and neck. With nine minutes left, both teams already found themselves in the bonus.  

Despite having a hard time continuing their hot shooting streak, the Pirates’ offense eventually started back up, putting more pressure on the Villanova defense. 

The intensity of the game turned up a notch in the final 90 seconds. A big three from Seton Hall was followed by a bucket from the Wildcats.  

With 23.5 seconds left in the game, Eric Dixon made two free throws. A few seconds later Moore made his free throws after a Seton Hall foul on the inbounds pass, making it a two-possession game. But the Pirates had an answer, with an “and one” play from Seton Hall cutting Villanova’s lead to 69-68 with 12.1 seconds left.  

Moore found himself back at the free throw line twice more, once with eight seconds and the other with 5.8. left. Moore nailed all four free throws to give the Wildcats a 75-72 lead.  

Moore’s composure at the line proved to be the difference maker, and after Eric Dixon made one final free throw, the game was over, continuing the Wildcats’ win streak and their momentum.   

Saturday’s game against UConn will serve as the regular season finale for the Wildcats, who are heating up right before the Big East tournament. The game is scheduled for a 7:30 P.M. tip at the Wells Fargo Center on March 4th. The Wildcats will then go into the Big East tournament as the six seed, where they will face eleven seed Georgetown or DePaul on Wednesday, March 8th.