NEW YORK – James Bell shot just 5-17 from the floor on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, but he hit arguably the two biggest shots of the night.
Bell hit a pair of threes in overtime to spark a 14-4 Villanova run and give the Wildcats an 89-81 win over Purdue in the second semifinal of the 2KSports Classic. Villanova advances to face Alabama, while Purdue will take on Oregon State in the consolation game.
“Coach has a saying, ‘shoot ’em up, sleep in the streets,” Bell said.
“It means some nights, you’re gonna shoot ’em up and be a star, and other nights you’re gonna shoot ’em up and they’re not gonna let you in the house and you have to sleep in the streets,” Wright said.
The game wasn’t without controversy, however.
Down 73-66 with just over a minute left, Villanova used a 9-2 run to force overtime, and while it started with a three pointer from Darrun Hilliard, it ended with free throws that may or may not have been deserved.
Purdue senior DJ Byrd was called for a questionable offensive foul, his fifth, when he elbowed a Villanova defender in the back court, a call that looked even worse when the referees went to the monitors and ruled it a Flagrant 1. That meant that not only would Villanova get two free throws, they would also get the ball back.
“I think it was the right call,” Bell said with a smile after the game.
After Hilliard hit the first two free throws, Purdue’s Terone Johnson fouled Villanova freshman Ryan Arcidiacono. He would knock down both free throws, tying the game and, eventually sending it to overtime.
Purdue made a big run just to get back into the game. Down 45-35 after a Tony Chennault layup with 16 minutes left in the game, Byrd sparked the Boilermaker comeback. He had eight points and two assists, accounting for 12 of the first 14 points of a 24-8 surge that game the Boilermakers a 59-53 lead.
Villanova was led by a career-high 22 points from sophomore Darrun Hilliard, who scored 16 of those 22 in the second half and overtime. Arcidiacono added 18 points and five assists (as well as seven turnovers).
Byrd finished with 16 points, five boards and five assists while the Johnson brothers — Ronnie and Terone — combined for 25 points and 13 assists, but shot just 8-26 from the floor.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.