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Villanova Tops Memphis, 79-63, for Third Battle 4 Atlantis Title

This+championship+makes+Villanova+undefeated+in+the+Battle+4+Atlantis%2C+as+the+Wildcats+have+won+the+title+in+all+three+of+their+appearances.+
Brian Luppy/Villanovan Photography
This championship makes Villanova undefeated in the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Wildcats have won the title in all three of their appearances.

On Friday, Nov. 24, Villanova took home the Battle 4 Atlantis Title after beating Memphis, 79-63. This championship makes Villanova (6-1) undefeated in the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Wildcats have won the title in all three of their appearances (2013, 2017). 

After having to fight hard in an overtime against No. 14 North Carolina on Thursday, Villanova commanded most of the championship game against the Tigers. 

When it came to scoring, the ‘Cats shared the wealth the entire night. Each player contributed to the constantly extending lead. 

Senior guard TJ Bamba led the team in scoring with 13, while graduate students Tyler Burton and Justin Moore and redshirt senior Eric Dixon had 11 points each. Dixon and Burton led the team in rebounds with nine and eight, respectively. Sophomore Mark Armstrong chipped in with 10 points. Junior Jordan Longino scored eight while leading the team with five assists. 

“I’m just proud of my guys and the coaches for sticking together throughout this week,” Moore said. “We put a lot of work in each and every day. So just us grinding and coming together is what I’m really proud of.”

The Wildcats started the game with a strong offensive presence, draining six three-pointers within the first 10 minutes of the game. This, along with Villanova’s denial of second chance opportunities for Memphis, led to an early 19-8 lead 10 minutes into the first half. 

“I thought we really came out and set the tone,” Neptune said. “I was really proud of our guys, especially those first ten minutes or so. Though we had a great tournament, though we got a lot better, I still think we can get a lot better. Really proud of this team.”

When the threes started slowing down for the rest of the half, the ‘Cats relied on their skills in the paint to lengthen their lead against the Tigers. 

Despite having a slow offensive start, Dixon soon became an important piece down low, scoring all of his points in the paint and from foul shots. With a dominant tournament and a career-high 34 points against UNC, Dixon was named the Battle 4 Atlantis MVP after the game on Friday.

“It’s nice to get recognition,” Dixon said. “[I’m happier for] my guys celebrating the win. And all the staff and all our managers and stuff at home, I know they care a lot, so it means more for me that they’re excited.” 

Although Villanova excelled on offense, the most important factors for the ‘Cats throughout the game came from their defense and denial of second-shot opportunities for the Tigers. At the end of the half, Memphis went 4-27 for field goals and 1-12 from behind the arc. 

“We know we can make shots,” Neptune said. “We’ve got great shooters and practice a lot. But the reality is that if you’re going to be a good team… you have to get the stops when you’re not making shots. That’s always been something that we’ve locked in on and that’s something we’re gonna have to continue to do as we move forward.”

The second half started the same as the first, with Villanova gaining its biggest lead of 35 with nine minutes to go in the game. 

With a 35-point lead in the second half, Neptune put in some players that don’t see the floor as much. But this led to a 21-0 scoring run for the Tigers in less than six minutes.  The lead was cut to as few as 13, but the Tigers’ run ended when Neptune put the starters back in and a Dixon bucket in the paint. 

“They kept playing hard,” Neptune said. “You know, we expected them to keep playing hard. We stopped getting stops for a little segment here and there. It’s a learning lesson. Something we have to go back and just get better at.”

With this win, the Wildcats will return home for regular conference play against fellow Big 5 team St. Joe’s on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at the Finneran Pavilion. The last time the two teams met was on Dec. 17, 2022, where the ‘Cats defeated the Hawks, 71-64. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports 1. 

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