For the second straight game, the Villanova Wildcats lost an overtime battle against a Big East rival at the Wells-Fargo Center, falling to the University of Connecticut Huskies 73-70. Just like the previous game (less than 48 hours earlier to Notre Dame), the Wildcats held a big lead early in the contest that evaporated before they succumbed to the Huskies. In last night’s game, Villanova got off to a hot start, jumping out to a 26-8 lead, led by the hot shooting of Dominic Cheek and Mouph Yarou. UCONN guard Jeremy Lamb quickly heated up however and the Huskies went on a 22-4 run to close out the first half. At the intermission, the teams were deadlocked at 30-30.
Both teams came into the nationally televised game (ESPN), struggling. Villanova had lost five 0f their last six games, including the overtime loss on Saturday night to Notre Dame. Connecticut had lost four of their last six, including a loss on Saturday to Marquette. Both teams entered the fray with losing records in Big East play, Villanova was 4-10 in conference games, and the Huskies 6-8.
In the second half, after the teams were tied three times, Connecticut took a 7 point lead, 54-47, on an old fashioned three point play by Lamb with 6:28 to go in regulation. The Wildcats fought back, however, and went back on top, 60-58, after two-made foul shots by Yarou with 2:18 left in the game. When Ryan Boatwright missed two foul shots for the Huskies, the Wildcats had a chance to enhance the lead But alas, it was not to be. First, JayVaughn Pinkston missed a three point shot with 34.9 seconds left. Villanova got the rebound and after a timeout, Dom Cheek made a bad inbound pass that led to a UCONN steal and a bucket by Alex Oriakhi, once more tying the game, 60-60. Villanova had one more opportunity in regulation, but could not convert.
UCONN rode the hot hand of Lamb throughout the overtime period, as he scored their first 10 points of the “extra ” session. But once again, Villanova did not quit and fought back. Ty Johnson hit a layup with 5.9 seconds left to tie the game at 70-70. Unfortunately, for the Wildcats, Shabazz Napier had enough time to launch a 29 foot three pointer that connected and gave the Huskies the lead 73-70. With 6/10ths of a second left after Napier’s shot swished through the net, Villanova’s attempt to inbound went astray and the the Cats went down to another heartbreaking overtime loss.
Cheek was Villanova’s high scorer with 23 points, on 9 for 13 shooting, including 2 of 5 three point shots. Ty Johnson ended with 14 points and contributed 6 assists against 4 turnovers. JayVaughn Pinkston had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Mouph Yarou added 11 points for the Wildcats. For the second straight game, Villanova was without the services of starters Maalik Wayns and James Bell who both continue to nurse injuries. Prior to the game, Dallas Ouano, Villanova’s lone senior, was honored at mid-court as part of the senior night ceremonies.
For UCONN, Lamb scored a game (and career) high 32 points. He was the Huskies only player to score in double figures. Andre Drummond had a game high 11 rebounds for the Huskies.
Villanova, now 11-16 overall, 4-11 BE, next plays at Georgetown on Saturday, February 25th. UCONN, now 17 -10 overall, 7-8 BE, hosts Syracuse on Saturday night.
Full photo gallery below: