Despite Loss, 'Nova Clinches Regular Season Title

On Saturday, the Villanova fell to Seton Hall by a score of 75-79. The Wildcats were unable to overcome a double-digit halftime deficit against the surging Pirates, who were fresh off of an upset victory of 16th ranked Marquette. Although Villanova lost the matchup, Marquette’s loss to Georgetown later in the day gave the Wildcats the outright Big East Regular Season title for the fifth time in the last six years.

In the matchup, Seton Hall got off to a hot start behind freshman Jared Rhoden, who finished with 15 points off the bench. Colin Gillespie (22 points on 8-12 shooting) was able to get the Wildcats’ offense rolling and scored consecutive baskets to make the score 24-20. Seton Hall responded well and took advantage of foul trouble by Phil Booth. The Wildcats’ star guard had only two points at the half, and the Pirates entered the intermission up 39-28. In the first half, Seton Hall’s Myles Powell, Myles Cale, and Rhoden each had 9 points while Eric Paschall had 5 points and 4 assists for the Wildcats.

Coming out of halftime, Seton Hall scored five quick points, marked by a Myles Cale three-pointer, to swell the lead to 16. Villanova quickly bounced back, going on a 13-0 run. To break the scoring drought Seton Hall’s Powell (20 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds) hit a three, but Saddiq Bey responded by banking in a shot on the other end of the floor. With just under 14 minutes left to play, Gillespie who had been sparking much of Villanova’s offense picked up his fourth foul. After he went to the bench, it looked as though Seton Hall was pulling away after a deep Powell three had the Prudential Center on its feet and Seton Hall up 56-45. However, the Wildcats were able to hang around, and Gillespie was able to pull Villanova within one point with just under four minutes of action. Villanova would never take over the lead, however, and a Cale three with 1:27 left put Seton Hall up eight. Although Booth and Bey knocked in threes, Seton Hall converted on the majority of its free throws and came away with the victory.

In the loss, Villanova allowed Seton Hall to pull ahead early and their comeback rally was derailed by their 14 turnovers and Seton Hall forward Sandro Mamukelashvili’s dominance on the glass. The sophomore finished with 12 points and a staggering 18 rebounds for the Pirates.

For the Wildcats, Phil Booth paced the late charge with 14 second-half points. Additionally, Paschall and Jermaine Samuels hauled in 8 boards apiece and scored 14 and 10 points respectively. The Wildcat’s bench did not score in the matchup.

Looking forward, both teams are preparing for the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Villanova awaits the winner of the Providence and Butler game while Seton Hall will square up against Georgetown. Villanova, aiming to complement its Big East Regular Season title, is looking to win the tournament for the third consecutive year.