Although Collin Sexton called Mikal Bridges the B-word when the outcome was long decided, Bridges and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats played their A-game at least when it counted most. The Wildcats earned the first bid into the 2018 Sweet 16 with an 81-58 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, it was the burst that turned a close game into a laugher for the last 15 minutes.
With the Wildcats leading 29-27, Donte DiVincenzo hit a 3-pointer prior to the halftime buzzer to give the the Wildcats a 32-27 lead. It was DiVincenzo’s fifth and final 3-pointer of the game. A last-ditch effort by Sexton went awry. Yet, what happened next could not have been foreseen after the first 20 minutes. The Wildcats outscored the Crimson Tide by 18 points in the second half. Oh and it could have been much worse thanks to the exploits of Bridges and the masterful passing game.
Bridges scored 22 of his 23 points in the second half. Overall, he made 5 of 8 shots from 3-point range. As far as anyone else is concerned, Bridges couldn’t miss to start the second half. He hit dagger after dagger to swarm the Crimson Tide. Within moments, the Wildcats turned a two-point lead into a 24-point lead. The lead eventually reached 30 points, but the game was already over as the Crimson Tide had no real answers, offensively.
The Wildcats hit 17 of 41 shots from 3-point range. To highlight the difference- the Crimson Tide only made 4 of 16 shots from 3-point range. Meaning, the Wildcats made more 3-pointers than the Crimson Tide attempted.
Overall, the Wildcats shot 39.7 percent from the field. The Crimson Tide shot two percentage points better at 41.7. However, they only made a quarter of their 3-point attempts, while barely connecting on 60 percent of their foul shots. Meanwhile, the Wildcats hit 41 percent from 3-point range and 87.5 percent from the foul line.
Turnovers were a problem as well. The Crimson Tide committed 15 miscues compared to the Wildcats’ eight turnovers. Moreover, Villanova had 18 assists, while Alabama only had 13 assists.
In all, the Wildcats had three players reach double figures. In addition to Bridges’ 23 points, Divincenzo scored 18 and Jalen Brunson added 12 points. Meanwhile, Sexton scored 17 points as the only Crimson Tide member to reach double figures. The Wildcats will play the winner of No. 5 West Virginia and No. 12 Marshall.