Buffalo, N.Y. (March 16, 2017) – Mount St. Mary's University led for the nearly the entire first half of play, but a strong second half from Villanova pushed the top-seeded Wildcats past the Mount, 76-56, on Thursday night in the NCAA First Round at the KeyBank Center.
The Mount, which claimed its second NCAA Tournament victory in program history on Tuesday to earn a berth in the Round of 64 against Villanova, closes out the campaign at 20-16 overall.
Rookie Miles Wilson registered the fourth 20-plus point performance of his career with a game-high 22 points to go along with seven rebounds. Elijah Long added 10 points and four assists and Junior Robinson chipped in with seven points and three assists.
Donte DiVincenzo paced Villanova with a double-double on 21 points (9-15 FG) and 13 rebounds, while Jalen Brunson registered 14 points and Mikal Bridges added 13.
The Wildcats went 31-for-60 (52 percent) from the field, compared to a 21-for-57 (37 percent) mark for the Mountaineers. Villanova held a 43-27 advantage over the Mount on the boards.
The Mountaineers jumped out to a 7-0 lead as their defense stymied the Wildcats early on, holding them off the board for over six minutes and without a field goal on their first eight attempts to open the contest. The Mount recorded four blocks in the first seven-plus minutes of the game, including a pair from Chris Wray.
A runner in the lane from DiVincenzo ended Villanova's scoring drought at the 13:54 mark, but the Mount quickly responded on the other end as Long drained a three-pointer to put the Mountaineers up 10-2.
The Mount held onto its advantage over the next eight minutes of play before Kris Jenkins knocked down three foul shots to tie the contest at 18-all with 5:44 left in the period. The Mount answered on the ensuing possession with a corner three from Wilson, and held the lead for the next four minutes until a dunk from Eric Paschall gave the Wildcats their first advantage of the game, 26-25, at the 1:23 mark.
A tough bucket inside from Wilson in the final minute put the Mountaineers back ahead, but Brunson worked his way to the paint on the other end and laid one off the glass with just a couple ticks left to give Villanova a 30-29 lead heading into the halftime break.
Villanova came out hot in the second half, opening the period on a 13-2 run to take a 43-31 lead at the 15:01 mark. Bridges followed with three-pointers on the next pair of Wildcat possessions before a layup from Josh Hart extended the Villanova lead to 51-35.
The Mount trimmed the deficit to 11 at the midpoint of the half following consecutive buckets from Long and Robinson, and the Wildcat lead remained at 11 under the six-minute mark before DiVincenzo knocked down his third three-pointer of the contest to push the Villanova advantage to 59-45.
The Wildcats registered 15 of the game's next 18 points to open their largest lead of the contest, 74-48, with just under two minutes left in the tilt.
Villanova closed out the 76-56 victory to improve to 32-3 overall on the season and advance to the Round of 32.