No. 2 UConn takes charge in second half over Villanova 74-66

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HARTFORD, Conn. – Jordan Hawkins scored 22 points to lead No. 2 UConn past Villanova 74-66 on Wednesday night.

Freshman Alex Karaban added 15 points and Andre Jackson Jr. had 10 for the Huskies (14-0, 3-0 Big East).

The win allowed the Huskies to tie the start of the 1953-54 team for third best. Only two have fared better with the 1998-99 team’s 19-0 mark at the top of the list. It was also the first season UConn won a national championship.

UConn is one of three remaining undefeated teams in the country along with Purdue and New Mexico.

“Pressure is being 6-8, there’s no pressure on us,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “We have a good team.

“We won our first 14, we have a lot of confidence in what we do.”

Hawkins scored in double figures for the sixth straight time and had his fourth 20-point game of the season. He made 6 of 14 from the field and 4 of 11 3-pointers.

“I’ve always been confident in my game,” Hawkins said. “It’s been a lot of hard work and that’s what you need to build your confidence.”

The Huskies needed some perimeter punch with the Wildcats locking down on center Adama Sanogo. The preseason Big East Player of the Year was held to two points in the first half. Sanogo finished with seven points, his second fewest of the season.

“This is why our league is a really good league and UConn’s a really good team,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said. “There’s no team where you can just take away one guy and you’re automatically guaranteed to have a positive result.

“They are number two for a reason and they have multiple guys who can beat you.”

Caleb Daniels led Villanova (7-6, 1-1) with 23 points, Eric Dixon added 18 and Brandon Slater had 10.

A 16-3 run early in the second half helped the Huskies create some separation, taking a 49-39 lead with 12:13 left. Daniels’ layup gave Villanova a 36-33 lead, but 3-pointers from Hawkins and Karaban followed by a Jackson dunk sparked the home team’s surge.

UConn finished with 21 of 53 shooting from the field and 9 for 30 on 3-pointers. The Wildcats made 22 of 51 but were just 5 for 22 on the perimeter.

“They made it tough defensively trying to get after us,” Neptune said. “They made it a tough and nasty game.”

It was the first game this season the Huskies did not win by double digits.

THE BIG PICTURE

The Wildcats had their five-game win streak come to an end.

The Huskies are in the meat of their conference schedule with trips to Xavier and Providence coming up before hosting Big East preseason favorite Creighton.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

The Huskies defense came up large after Villanova cut it to 58-56 with 3:36 to play on Daniels’ three-point play. First Jackson’s steal led to a Sanogo layup, then Hassan Diarra drew a charge from Jordan Longino that led to Jackson’s 3-pointer and a 63-56 lead.

UNSUNG HERO

In 20 minutes off the bench, Diarra scored six points with three assists and four second-half steals.

“My mentality was to be disruptive and pick my team up with energy,” he said.

UP NEXT

Villanova: Hosts Marquette on Saturday.

UConn: At No. 22 Xavier on Saturday.

No. 25 Villanova women beat American University 83-42

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Maddy Siegrist had 24 points and seven rebounds, Lucy Olsen added 14 points and No. 25 Villanova beat American University 83-42 on Tuesday night.

Siegrist scored 15 points in the opening 13 minutes as Villanova led 34-15. The Wildcats extended it to 46-23 by halftime before starting the second half on a 9-0 run for a 32-point lead.

Villanova added an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game at 79-36. The Wildcats held American to 15-of-50 shooting (30%) and scored 21 points off 19 turnovers.

Christina Dalce scored 13 points for Villanova (8-2), which plays Saint Joseph’s on Saturday before taking a week off for final exams. Siegrist, who was coming off a 29-point performance on Sunday, made 10 of 17 shots as Villanova shot 56%.

Emily Johns scored 12 points for American (0-8), which hosts Marist (3-5) on Saturday.

Portland beats Villanova 83-71 in Phil Knight Invitational

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Moses Wood scored 16 points and Portland beat Villanova 83-71 on Friday in the Phil Knight Invitational.

Villanova (2-4) has lost three straight games, including an overtime loss to Iowa State on Thursday to drop below .500 for the first time since March 7, 2012.

Vasilije Vucinic’s layup with 4:16 remaining in the first half gave Portland the lead for good. The Pilots had an eight-point lead at halftime and scored the first 10 points of the second half.

Wood added six rebounds and three blocks for the Pilots (5-3). Tyler Robertson scored 15 points while shooting 6 for 12 (1 for 5 from 3-point range) and added seven rebounds and eight assists. Kristian Sjolund recorded 14 points and shot 5 for 7 (2 for 3 from 3-point range).

Caleb Daniels finished with 18 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats. Villanova also got 14 points from Jordan Longino. Brandon Slater had 11 points.

Dunn’s late free throws help Temple stun No. 16 Villanova

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PHILADELPHIA — Khalif Battle got lost in a swarm of delirious Temple students that had mobbed the court in celebration of one of the program’s wildest wins in years.

Just one problem.

The tiniest of ticks were stuck on the clock.

Hey, it had been 10 years since the Owls knocked off mighty Villanova. What’s a few more seconds?

“It felt like the party just started,” Battle said. “I mean, they had to chuck-up a shot with .2 seconds on the clock. You do that, I take my hat off. But we won.”

Damian Dunn drew a foul on a driving layup with 1.1 seconds left and made both free throws as Temple beat No. 16 Villanova 68-64 on Friday night, sending the Owls’ fans into a court-storming frenzy – twice! – at Liacouras Center.

The 14 lead changes in the second half helped this one shape up into a Big 5 classic. All that was missing was the Palestra.

“Temple was one of the big-time programs,” Battle said. “We’re just trying to bring it back to that. Bring our name back. It was a big deal.”

Dunn sank the first free throw for a 65-64 lead and Villanova called timeout to ice the sophomore guard. Temple security guards lined the court in anticipation of the mayhem ahead — and Dunn delivered.

He hit the second one, Temple’s Zach Hicks intercepted the in-bound pass and hundreds of fans instantly swarmed the court. The public address announcer ordered fans to clear the court — “the game is not over!” — even as 0.0 remained frozen on the scoreboard.

Turned out, a foul was called on Villanova’s Eric Dixon and Hicks went to the free-throw line with 0.2 on the clock and hundreds of Temple students stuffed behind the other basket ready to sprint out again.

Hicks made both and Villanova called one final timeout. Temple players high-fived impatient fans and also tried to keep the peace safely contained off the court. When the game finally ended, it was Temple Court Storm, Take 2!

Temple coach Aaron McKie earned his signature win in his four seasons on the bench. The Owls beat a Top 25 team for the first time since they topped No. 16 Wichita State 65-52 on Jan. 15, 2020.

“It’s great for the players to see, that’s that college energy that these kids go play college basketball for,” McKie said.

Dunn led the Owls (1-1) with 22 points and Battle had 21.

Caleb Daniels led Villanova (1-1) with 19 points and Dixon had 18. Villanova averaged 26 3-point attempts per-game last season but shot only 2 of 7 against Temple. The Owls denied shots on the perimeter and forced the Wildcats to try passes into the paint, which they hit with mixed results.

“They did a good job of taking away something we like to do,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said.

Saint Joseph’s, Villanova, La Salle, Penn and Temple had its rivalry games intertwined in the fabric of Philadelphia sports for more than 60 years. The Big 5, though, lost its shine over the last decade as the Wildcats turned into a national power and the other four teams could not keep pace.

The pandemic wiped out the annual matchup each of the last two seasons and this was the first meeting since a Villanova win on Feb. 16, 2020. The Owls hadn’t won in the series since Dec. 5, 2012, when Fran Dunphy was still the coach. Villanova had won seven straight in the series by an average of 18 points.

The Owls hit the court fired-up for the upset.

Battle, healthy after missing nearly all of last season with a broken foot, hit a 3 and then converted a four-point play for a 24-11 lead. Temple fans erupted.

The Wildcats were were off their game in Neptune’s second game since he replaced retired Hall of Famer Jay Wright. Villanova closed on an 11-3 run and trailed 34-29.

The Wildcats played without expected starters Justin Moore (out indefinitely, torn Achilles) and preseason Big East freshman of the year Cam Whitmore (right thumb).

None of that mattered as fans ignored the PA pleas and danced and snapped selfies with Hooter after the final horn.

UP NEXT

Villanova returns home Monday to play Delaware State.

Temple hosts Vanderbilt on Wednesday.

Villanova wins in 1st game without Wright; Neptune in charge

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VILLANOVA, Pa. — Caleb Daniels scored 24 points to make coach Kyle Neptune a winner in his Villanova debut in the program’s first game since Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright’s sudden retirement, and the No. 16 Wildcats beat La Salle 81-68 on Monday night.

With Wright watching, the Wildcats played in the opener a lot like the team coming off the retired coach’s last Final Four season. The Wildcats returned three starters (a fourth, Justin Moore, was injured) from the team that lost a national semifinal game to Kansas.

Expectations have been tempered following Wright’s departure. Villanova, the defending Big East Tournament champion, was picked third in a preseason poll. Villanova also earned its lowest preseason ranking in the AP Top 25 since 2008.

The polls meant nothing at tipoff.

Daniels made his first five 3-pointers and the Wildcats used an early 10-0 run to put away their city rival and spoiled 74-year-old coach Fran Dunphy’s return to the bench. Dunphy, who had successful coaching stints at Penn and Temple, was coaxed out of retirement to coach the program where he served as co-captain and helped the Explorers to a 23-1 record in 1969 under coach Tom Gola.

Josh Nickelberry scored 22 points to lead the Explorers, who trailed by as many as 21 points.

The 60-year-old Wright, who led Nova to two NCAA titles, was upbeat as he mingled with fans before the game and appeared at ease watching his successor almost seven moths after he cited a “lost edge” for retirement. About an hour before tipoff, Wright told The Associated Press he was happy he was back at the Pavilion.

“It’s strange but it’s exciting,” he said. “I’m excited to watch these guys. I know they’ve done a great job in the offseason. I popped in and watched some practices. I talked to them. I’m like a fan. I’m excited how to see how everything they did in the preseason worked.”

Eric Dixon scored 20 points and the Wildcats shot 54% in the first half — La Salle missed 20 of 29 shots in the half — and they were quickly on their way to a ninth straight win in the series.

BIG PICTURE

La Salle: Dunphy inherits a rebuilding process and team that went 11-19 last season. He went 580-325 as head coach and led his teams to 17 NCAA Tournaments. He was at Temple from 2006-19 and coached Penn from 1989-2006. La Salle fired Ashley Howard after four seasons and a 45-71 record.

Villanova: Neptune played at Lehigh, began as a video coordinator at Villanova in 2008 served as an assistant under Wright from 2013-2021. He worked his way into the head job at Fordham and went 18-18 in his lone season – the program had 23 wins combined the previous three seasons. The 38-year-old Neptune already had recruited or coached most of the players on Villanova’s roster and easily had Wright’s stamp of approval. Wright still works for Villanova as a special assistant to the President.

UP NEXT

La Salle: Home opener Saturday against Wagner.

Villanova: Another Big 5 game Saturday at Temple.

Villanova freshman Cam Whitmore set to have surgery on thumb

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova freshman forward Cam Whitmore is set to have surgery on his right thumb after injuring it in practice Wednesday.

The school said Friday that Whitmore will be re-evaluated in early November.

“We’re disappointed for Cam,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said. “Throughout the preseason he’s worked hard to learn our concepts and what it takes to be effective in the Big East. This is temporary setback, though, and we know Cam will approach his rehab with a great attitude.”

The 6-foot-7 Whitmore was the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year at Archbishop Spalding High School. In June, he was the Most Outstanding Player at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship in leading the United States to the title.

The Wildcats also are missing guards Justin Moore (Achilles tendon) and Caleb Daniels (broken nose) and forward Trey Patterson (sports hernia).