At halftime, Villanova led 29-16. It’s defense looked like it had finally come together, and it appeared that the team would get a much needed confidence building victory heading into the Big East tournament.
How quickly things can change.
West Virginia outscored Villanova 44-31 in the second half, and the Wildcats needed a Corey Fisher 3-point shot with 7.7 seconds left to send the game to overtime. In the extra session, the teams were tied at 66-66 when Da’Sean Butler blew by Reggie Redding for a layup to put his team ahead with 5.8 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats had a chance to win it when the play that Jay Wright drew up worked perfectly, leaving Scottie Reynolds wide open in the corner for a 3-pointer after a pass from Redding, but Reynolds’ shot clanked off the back of the rim as time expired.
The result was a devastating 68-66 loss for Villanova to put a cap on a disappointing finish to the regular season. Villanova dropped five of its last nine games to finish 24-6 overall and 13-5 in the Big East.
The game began to slip into West Virginia’s favor early in the second half when the Wildcats committed six fouls in the first 5:02. By the 9:30 mark Villanova already had nine (two of which were questionable holds away from the ball), and Wright lost his cool and received a technical.
After the technical, the calls began to fall back into Villanova’s favor, and West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins became irate and received a technical too. The game was called poorly for both sides on Saturday.
In the end, it wasn’t the officiating that did Villanova in but instead the play of Butler. With Villanova up 55-53 in regulation, Butler hit a wide-open 3-point shot from the top of they key to give his team a 56-55 lead with 52 seconds remaining. His heroics continued later on the game-winning shot in overtime. He finished the contest with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite missing the game-winner, Reynolds once again led the Wildcats in scoring with 17 points. He now stands at 2,184 points for his career, trailing Kerry Kittles by 59 for the school record.
Reynolds did appear a bit beaten up in the game. He fell hard to the floor numerous times, including a play where he jumped over the CBS commentators. He was grimacing often in the second half and did not appear to be 100 percent.
Fisher and Redding also had double-figures in scoring for Villanova with 12 and 10, respectively. Junior Corey Stokes continued his strong play since moving to the bench as he finished with 11 points.
One player who remained on that bench for Villanova was Taylor King. Jay Wright said that King did not play Saturday because of a “teaching point.”
The loss has Villanova most likely slated for the four-seed in the Big East tournament, barring an upset by Rutgers at Pittsburgh. If it is the four-seed, Villanova’s first game would be 2 p.m. on Thursday against the winner of Marquette and its yet to be determined opponent.
– David Cassilo