Hart’s double-double propels ‘Cats to victory



Meaghan Bedigian

Indianapolis, Ind. – If you still haven’t picked up a mega millions lottery ticket, you can be sure to bet on lucky number three. Powerball Josh Hart’s second straight double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds) led to a 60-55 win against Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse last night, redeeming the Wildcats after their lowest scoring half of the season.

“We just love playing here,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “We have so much respect for [Butler].”

Foul trouble and cold shooting on Villanova’s end combined with impressive Butler defense kept it a low-scoring game at the half, showing 27-21 on the scoreboard in the home team’s favor. Key performances by red-shirt freshman Mikal Bridges, junior Darryl Reynolds and senior Ryan Arcidiacono paired with a 14-0 run by Hart turned the game around in the second half.

“That’s as good a team as we have played,” Wright said.

Efforts from Hart, Bridges (seven points, five rebounds, two blocks), Reynolds (two points, five rebounds) and Arcidiacono (11 points, four assists) offset more foul trouble for both senior Daniel Ochefu and starting freshman guard Jalen Brunson.

“You’ve got to do that as a team and that was so important,” Wright said.

The No. 18 Bulldogs (12-4 overall, 1-3 BIG EAST) are historically a tight matchup for the No. 11 Wildcats (14-2, 4-0 BIG EAST). This is the third straight year VU has secured a win at Hinkle, and all three games were decided within the final minute.

“When you play here, you’re going to have to be tough,” Wright said. “You are going to have to be intelligent in time and score situations.”

Hart was 10-of -15 from the floor (.667) while the rest of the ‘Cats were 12-of-38 (.316). Yet Villanova defense was strong enough to keep Butler at bay, limiting them to .358 accuracy from the field and just three 3-pointers in 15 attempts.

A pair of Bridges’ free throws gave Villanova its largest lead at 42-34 before a 7-0 scoring surge by Butler. The Bulldogs trailed by 3 with possession of the ball with less than 30 seconds to go, which was settled by a pair of free throws sunk by Ochefu with 11 seconds left on the clock.

“We’re really proud to come out of here with a win,” said Wright.

Villanova hosts Big East foe Marquette Wednesday night at the Pavilion at 8:30 p.m.