A rain delay, potent offensive play and a step back game-winner marked a wild night at Hinkle Fieldhouse as Butler handed Villanova its second straight loss, 79-76, on Wednesday night.
After Saddiq Bey hit consecutive three-pointers on Villanova’s final two possessions of the game to tie the contest at 76, Butler guard Kamar Baldwin drilled a deep three over Collin Gillespie as time expired to give the Bulldogs the victory.
Trailing for most of the game, ‘Nova found itself down 10 with just 5:44 left to play before three-pointers on three successive possessions – one apiece from Bey, Gillespie and Justin Moore – brought the Wildcats back into contention. Despite the offensive success, the ‘Cats were unable to get the necessary stops defensively, a trend which continued to the game’s very last seconds and ultimately spelled doom for the visitors.
Baldwin’s 17 points were a part of a torrid night offensively for LaVall Jordan’s squad which shot 57.7% from the field and 46.2% from deep for the game. Sean McDermott, who was silenced in the first meeting between the two teams back in January, led the way for the Bulldogs with 21 points on 7-8 shooting. Sophomore Bryce Golden enjoyed the night of his college career, scoring 18 points on nine made field goals.
For the ‘Cats, monster performances from both Gillespie and Bey were not enough to overcome the Bulldogs' hot shooting. Villanova's two top scorers each played 39 minutes on the night and scored 28 and 29 points respectively. Unfortunately for ‘Nova, Gillespie and Bey did not receive much offensive support from their teammates as no other Wildcats managed to score in double figures. In just his second game back from an ankle injury, Jermaine Samuels was particularly uninvolved in the offense, taking just two shots and scoring only as many points. The junior was able to grab a team-high seven rebounds in the game.
What turned into an epic Big East battle was in jeopardy of not reaching its completion when, with 13:07 left in the first half, the game was delayed as water began to fall onto the floor due to a leak in the fieldhouse’s roof. The issue was able to be resolved, however, and play resumed after a 19-minute delay.
Losers of their last two contests, another challenge awaits the Wildcats on Saturday with the conference leader Seton Hall scheduled to visit the Wells Fargo Center for a 2:30 p.m. tipoff.