Torrid second half carries Villanova to Sweet 16

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Villanova 81, Alabama 58 – Box Score

For years, the identity for the Villanova Wildcats has been to live by the three, die by the three. Saturday afternoon’s second round game against Alabama was the extreme example of that, as Villanova attempted a whopping 41 threes out of their 63 field goal attempts, a clip even well above their already high season average of 29 attempts per game.

Safe to say, with the three by their side, the Wildcats were living large. Initially, with Omari Spellman and Jalen Brunson both saddled with two fouls, and Mikal Bridges oddly struggling with just 1 point on 0-5 shooting in the first half, DiVincenzo basically carried the entire scoring load for Villanova. DiVincenzo scored all 18 of his points in the first half, going 5-9 from three prior to the break.

The sophomore guard caught fire in literal NBA Jam fashion, canning three straight triples over a two-minute stretch to take the Wildcats from being tied at 13 to ahead 22-15. DiVincenzo even sent the Wildcats into the locker room happy, knocking down yet another three-ball with just seconds remaining in the half.

Coming out of the break, DiVincenzo passed the torch to his teammates, and Villanova started the second half on a blistering 18-1 run. Mikal Bridges shook off whatever malaise was affecting him in the first half, one-upping DiVincenzo by draining four threes in a two-minute period.

In all, the Wildcats made their first six three-pointers of the second half, and suddenly a game that looked very much in doubt was pushing a 30-point margin of victory. Bridges scored 22 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 23 points, including a 5-8 mark from three. That knockdown shooting will serve Bridges well at the next level, with NBA teams salivating at his 3&D potential. But first, the potential top-10 pick has as many as four more games to win in a Villanova uniform.

Now, the Wildcats will head to Boston for next week’s Sweet 16, where they’ll take on the winner of the West Virginia-Marshall game. Through two games of the tournament, Villanova has made 15.5 threes per game, significantly above Savannah State’s Division-1-leading average of 12.2 per game this season. If the Wildcats keep working the ball around and knocking down threes at a similar rate, it doesn’t matter who will take the floor against them. Through one weekend, it’s looking more and more like we could expect another One Shining Moment for the Main Line.

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