Villanova Falls to No. 14 UConn, 71-59, in Last Regular Season Game


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Justin Moore scored a team high 17 points in tonight’s game.

Brooke Ackerman, Co-Sports Editor

March — it’s college basketball’s favorite month and the time of year where teams are supposed to be playing their best basketball. 

But for the Villanova men’s basketball team (16-15, 10-10 Big East), its disappointing 71-59 loss against No. 14 UConn (24-7, 13-7 Big East) at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night was far from its best performance. 

The Wildcats racked up a grand total of 12 turnovers, finished the game going 20-54 from the field, and shot 25.9 percent from the three. 

“I thought they got into us. They make you miss,” head coach Kyle Neptune said via Villanova Athletics. “There’s a reason why their defensive numbers are where they are. They take away threes and did a good job tonight.”

Villanova headed into tonight’s matchup on a high note. The Wildcats were on a three game winning streak, with two of their three latest wins against Quad one teams. 

But, a stubborn Husky defense had other plans. 

The game started off slow and even, with a tied score at the first two media timeouts. 

Power forward Adama Sanogo, who leads the Big East in points per game, had his way down low in the first 10 minutes of the half, putting up eight points in the paint. 

While the Huskies showed some strength against what is normally a tough Villanova defense, it wasn’t until a 9-1 scoring run from UConn in the later portion of the first half that the Huskies started to gain composure and settle into the game. 

This run, along with two sloppy turnovers from the Wildcats in the last two minutes of the half and a buzzer-beater jumper from UConn forward Alex Karaban, sent the Wildcats into the locker room down 32-24. 

While UConn seemed to struggle more offensively in the second half, shooting 44.6% from the field and 29.6% from the three on the game, the Wildcats seemed to struggle even more, trailing for the duration of the second half. 

Even the Wildcats, who seemed impressive on the stat sheet, couldn’t fully capitalize on all their offensive opportunities. 

Senior guard Justin Moore finished the game with a team high 17 points, but that was after he went 7-15 from the field and 3-10 from three.

Freshman forward Cam Whitmore was the only other Wildcat to reach double digits, scoring 14 points as he went 6-11 from the field and 1-5 from the three.

The rest of the second half progressed slowly, as UConn suffered scoring droughts throughout the half. But, with the Wildcats struggling to capitalize offensively, they were unable to ever cut into the Husky lead, resulting in their inevitable loss. 

“I thought we had our moments tonight,” Neptune said. “Unfortunately, when you play against really good teams the margin for error is pretty low.”

Now, with the regular season behind them, the Wildcats look forward to the Big East Tournament where their eyes are set on a successful week at Madison Square Garden to give them a fighting chance for the Big Dance. 

“Our mindset all year has been a game by game mindset,” Neptune said. “We’ve got to go out and prepare for one team and then hopefully prepare for another team and then hopefully another team. I know that a lot of people focus on winning four games but for us, we go practice by practice by practice and game by game.”

The No. 6 seed heading into the tournament, the Wildcats will take on No. 11 Georgetown (7-24, 2-18 Big East), which currently sits in last place in the conference. 

The Wildcats have won both times they faced the Hoyas in the regular season this year. 

The game is set for Wednesday, March 8 at 8:00 p.m. and will air on FS1.