With a trip to the Final Four hanging in the balance, the number one seeded Villanova Wildcats faced the number three seeded Texas Tech Red Raiders at T.D Garden in Boston. They were playing for the right to head to San Antonio Texas and a shot at playing for a national championship.
Sunday’s matchup marked the first time that these two programs have met in basketball. Most experts had the Wildcats getting to the East Regional final, while some may have been surprised at the Red Raiders making it this far. But, after Friday night’s 78-65 win over Purdue, the Red Raiders took care of any doubters.
Tech started the game hot scoring the first seven points of the game. The Wildcats had a little trouble getting started missing their first three shots from the field. Guard, Jalen Brunson would get the Wildcats on the board by hitting one free throw. Two and a half minutes in Tech was up seven to one.
Nova would take their first lead of the half on a Donate DiVincenzo three-pointer and he finished the game with 12 points. There was only one tie in the half and it came on a tip-in basket by Tech’s Jarret Culver. With twelve minutes left in the half, the game was tied at 15-15.
From there it was all Villanova as they would finish the half on a 35-14 run. The Wildcats took their first double-digit advantage of the half on a DiVincenzo layup and it was 33-23 with fifty-five seconds left in first half. Nova’s defense should also take a bow, holding the Red Raiders without a field goal over the final eight minutes of the first twenty minutes. Villanova went to the locker room up 36-23.
Texas Tech did not help themselves by settling for jump shots instead of doing what they do, taking the ball to the basket. In the first half, the Red Raiders were one of ten from three-point range, while getting outrebounded by thirteen, 26- 13. Not the way to advance against the number one seeded Wildcats.
In the second half, Villanova kept after the Red Raiders built their lead to its biggest margin of fifteen on two separate occasions. First, it was a Brunson jumper ( he had 15 on the day) to make it 38-23 Nova 45 seconds in. The second time was ann an Omar Spellman dunk, 11 for him in the game. It was 40-25 with two minutes gone in the second half.
TexasTech took one more crack at taking this game with a 7-2 run that brought them to within five at 54-49 with five minutes left. A three-pointer by Brandone Francis, to go along with two free throws by Keenan Evans, gave the Red Raider fans hope. Evans finished with 12 points for the game.
Villanova would not be denied and they would regain the ten-point lead on free throws by Eric Paschal who had 12 for the game. With seventy-five seconds left, the Villanova faithful were starting to smell their second trip to the final four in three years.