The Villanova Wildcats beat Big East foe, the Butler Bulldogs, 67-48 on Wednesday, February 27th during Senior Night at the Pavilion. Before the game the team honored its three senior players James ” Taj” Bell, Tony Chennault, and Nick McMahon (all three were also in the starting line-up).
Villanova grabbed the lead, after Butler scored the first basket of the game, on a three-pointer by Ryan Arcidiacono. The Wildcats would never trail again despite some pretty gruesome shooting in the first ten minutes of the game by both teams. At the 10:06 mark of the first -half, Villanova led Butler 10-4. At this point, Villanova had made only 3 of its first 13 shots, and only one of nine from distance. Butler also had trouble making a shot, hitting just 2 of its first 11 field goal attempts. The Wildcats then put together a brief spurt, going on an 11-2 run, to expand their lead to 25-13 with 3:16 to play in the first half. Villanova continued to stretch the lead and went to the locker room up by a score of 34-20 (after Butler hit a bank shot three-pointer from the wing to beat the buzzer). Villanova built the double-digit margin by playing tenacious defense. Butler was held to 26.1% shooting from the field in the first twenty minutes, and the Wildcats only allowed Butler to connect on 2 of 10 shots from beyond the arc.
In the second half, after another shooting dry spell, Villanova gradually pulled away from Butler. The lead mushroomed to 55-31, with 7:37 left to play, on a Kris Jenkins triple. The lead ultimately expanded to 60-31 on a Daniel Ochefu basket with 6:30 to play. From there, it was only a question of how much the final margin would be. To the delight of the crowd (and the scholarship players), the large lead also provided an opportunity to see walk-ons Nick McMahon, Henry Lowe, and Patrick Farrell (Villanova’s “bench mob”) get some expanded playing time.
Villanova was led in scoring by Bell and Darrun Hilliard, both with 11 points. Bell is now 6 points shy of reaching 1,000 points in his career. Arcidiacono added 9 points, with Josh Hart and JayVaughn Pinkston each chipping in 8 points. Villanova won the rebounding battle 42-35, with Hart collecting 8 caroms. Bell and Pinkston each collected 7 rebounds. The Wildcats had 11 assists against 7 turnovers. Dylan Ennis dished out 4 assists for the Wildcats. Kellen Dunham was Butler’s high scorer with 12 (on 3 of 13 shooting). Dunham also led the Bulldogs with 7 rebounds.
During the game, Villanova also honored several of its teams who have recently won Championships in other sports, as well as football coach Andy Talley who earned his 200th win in 2013.
With the win, Villanova improved to 25-3 overall, 13-2 Big East. Villanova also finished the year 12-0 at the Pavilion, winning by an average margin of 22 points per game. Butler dropped to 9-16, and 2-14 Big East. Next up for Villanova is a game against Marquette on Sunday, March 2nd (2pm tip) at the Wells Fargo Center. Butler will next play on March 6th when it visits DePaul.
[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
You can view additional photos in the gallery below (click thumbnails to enlarge):