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Villanova Outlasts No. 14 North Carolina in OT, 83-81

Redshirt+forward+senior+Eric+Dixon+scored+a+career-high+34+in+the+win+over+No.14+North+Carolina.
Redshirt forward senior Eric Dixon scored a career-high 34 in the win over No.14 North Carolina.

A career-high 34 point double-double for redshirt senior forward Eric Dixon was just enough for Villanova to outlast No. 14 North Carolina in the semifinal of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 83-81. With the win, the ‘Cats advance to the championship game of the tournament and improve to 5-1.

An instant “Feast Week” classic, the game featured 23 lead changes and was tied 19 times.

Graduate guard Justin Moore contributed 16 to the win, while sophomore guard Mark Armstrong chipped in 10. The Tar Heels were led by senior guard RJ Davis who scored 23. Graduate forward/center Armando Bacot pulled in 18 rebounds alongside eight points.

The Tar Heels had three players foul out of the game, as the team committed 30 personal fouls. The ‘Cats would attempt 36 free throws in the game, sinking 32 of them.

The first half was led by Dixon, who scored 20 of the ‘Cats’ 32 total points. 

At the half, Dixon was 6-9 from the field and 3-3 from three. The rest of the ‘Cats were 3-16 and 0-6 from beyond the arc. Dixon was also perfect from the free throw line in the first half, adding five points to the ‘Cats’ total.

The Tar Heels went on a 13-0 run over 3:17 of game time in the middle of the first half to go from down two to up nine, their largest lead of the half. Dixon converted a four-point play to end the run.

The ‘Cats responded with a 10-0 run that spanned from Dixon’s four point play at 5:09 to 1:53, swinging the score back in the ‘Cats’ favor, 28-27.

Tar Heels senior guard RJ Davis hit a three as time expired in the first half to give his team a two-point, 34-32 lead headed into the locker room.

Dixon scored his 1,000th point as a Wildcat in his 20-point first half.

Early in the second half, the Tar Heels pushed their lead to nine after a 12-4 run over 4:37 of game time. It matched the Tar Heels’ largest lead of the first.

The ‘Cats responded with an 8-0 run to tie the game with 8:29 remaining. The lead did not grow larger than three for either team for the remainder of regulation.

Tar Heel junior forward Harrison Ingram fouled out of the game with 3:44 remaining after Justin Moore drew a charge on Ingram. Ingram finished with 20 points on 6-8 shooting.

Tar Heel graduate guard Cormac Ryan hit a three to tie the game with 0:34 left in the second half. Dixon had a chance to put the ‘Cats up three after Moore passed out to him on a double team, but Dixon’s shot with eight seconds left was off the mark. Davis tried to replicate his first-half buzzer-beater, but his shot was also wayward, and the game went to overtime.

Overtime would also be back-and-forth, with the largest lead in the extra period belonging to the ‘Cats at five. 

Five of Moore’s 16 came in overtime to secure the win for the ‘Cats. The Tar Heels did not attempt a three in the extra period.

The ‘Cats shot 9-10 from the charity stripe in overtime, accounting for nine of their 15 points.

The win sends the ‘Cats through to the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, where they will face either Memphis or No. 20 Arkansas. The game will tip at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 24.

 

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Owen Hewitt, Co-Sports Editor
Owen Hewitt is one of two Co-Sports Editors in 2024. Entering his second year in this position, he is a Communications major specializing in journalism. Owen is a Memphis native and a die-hard Grizzlies fan, although his main loyalty lies with Memphis 901 FC. When not writing about basketball or soccer, Owen can often be found on stage, performing as part of Villanova's improv team Ridiculum. Owen has many goals in life, including going into sports journalism as a profession, but his main goal — always — is to stay jitty with it.
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