Sun, 24 Jan 2021

No. 12 Villanova ready to apply learned lessons to Hartford

Field Level Media
01 Dec 2020, 06:19 GMT+10

The Villanova men's basketball team will continue its extended stay in the Nutmeg State on Tuesday when it faces Hartford in a "Bubbleville" event at Uncasville, Conn.

The game will mark the fourth in seven days in Connecticut for the 12th-ranked Wildcats (2-1).

Villanova posted a 76-67 winover Boston College on Wednesday and then captured the 2K Empire Classic title the following day with an 83-74 victory over Arizona State. The Wildcats were back on the court Saturday and dropped an 81-73 overtime decision to a Virginia Tech team that was only named an opponent one day earlier.

While fatigue could've played a role in the defeat, coach Jay Wright wasn't willing to use that as an excuse.

"Whether it did or it didn't, I don't want to take away from what Virginia Tech did," Wright said. "We chose to do this and it was good for us. This was a good game for us. Early in the year we played three really good teams. Because Virginia Tech did so many things well from an execution standpoint, it exposed us. It's how young guys learn, unfortunately.

"I look at this as a positive. We got a really good experience against a really good team."

Fancy footwork with regard to the schedule likely will be a common theme throughout the season, given the ever-changing world in lieu of the coronavirus pandemic.

Villanova, in fact, initially was slated to host Saint Joseph's at Finneran Pavilion on Wednesday, but that contest was nixed after the latter school announced a 14-day pause in basketball activities due to a positive COVID-19 test within its "Tier 1" personnel.

As for matters on the court, Collin Gillespie scored 18 of his 25 points in the first half on Saturday. Caleb Daniels added 17 points and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 14 for the Wildcats, who squandered a 12-point lead with 8:48 to play in the game.

"You learn when you have a lead and you're playing against a good team, you've got to play every possession until the end," Wright said. "So, we're definitely going to learn that the hard way."

Hartford (0-1) put a charge into another Big East team before dropping a 69-57 decision to UConn on Friday. The Hawks trimmed a 19-point deficit to three in the second half before falling to their in-state adversary.

Moses Flowers collected 24 points and seven rebounds and Hunter Marks had 14 and nine, respectively, to pace the Hawks.

Hartford coach John Gallagher credited his team's dogged determination on the boards -- the Huskies only outrebounded the Hawks by a 41-37 margin -- and aggressive play.

"I knew the pressure was going to come and they got in a rhythm in the first 14 minutes," Gallagher said, per the Hartford Courant. "On our end, once we settled down into the game, we got a little rhythm, we started getting stops, we started getting better. I think we're going to have a bright season, but tip your hat to UConn."

Traci Carter, who led America East in assists last season (162), had just one in the season opener.

--Field Level Media

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