(The scene during Villanova-UNC Asheville – Photo by Jason Schott – NY Sports Day)
In the NCAA South regional First Round on Friday afternoon at Barclasy Center, two Philadelphia schools competed, and both teams did what they were expected to.
Second-seeded Villanova ran out #15 UNC Asheville 86-56, and #10 Temple lost in overtime to #7 Iowa, 72-70.
#2 Villanova Wildcats 86, #15 UNC Asheville Bulldogs 56
This was a pretty tight game early, as the Villanova Wildcats held just a 24-22 lead with 4:21 left in the first half.
They closed the first half on a 16-4 run, capped by a Ryan Arcidiacono three as the clock hit zero. That was basically the knockout punch, as it gave Villanova a 40-26 lead heading into the break.
Arcidiacono said of the run late in the first half, “It was definitely important to us. We were just catching and shooting, being aggressive against their zone. I think they’re 1-3-1 they are really aggressive on it and you can’t be very passive. You have to attack it look for your open shots. I think we were able to get in the lane and take out for a couple open threes, and just ran a good play at the end of the half that we run every single day with like 4.9 seconds. So we were just aggressive against the zone.”
The Wildcats maintained that lead and got that up to 30, at 71-41, on an Arcidiacono three with 7:57 left in the game.
Villanova was led by Daniel Ochefu, who had 17 points on 7-9 from the field, 10 rebounds, and four assists. Arcidiacono finished with 14 points on 5-7 shooting, 4-6 on threes, with four assists and two rebounds. Kris Jenkins had 12 points, two rebounds, and two assists. Jalen Brunson had 10 points, three rebounds, and three assists.
Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said of the game, “Great start for us. I think it came down to our two seniors right here, Daniel and Arcidiacono, having the experience to understand how good of a team Asheville is. We try to tell those guys after the game, Coach McDevitt and their players, that’s a young team. They’re freshmen and sophomores, man. They’re going to be around. They’re really good, very well coached. The score doesn’t indicate how tough they are.
“What the score indicates is we have two seniors that got a bunch of young guys to understand, if you don’t bring it 100 percent against a team like that, they’ll beat you. They’re good enough to beat us, but we played well because we really brought it and we had great leadership.”
Arcidiacono said of playing in front of a pro-Villanova crowd in Brooklyn, ” We know the Nova nation travels well, but we try not to focus on that. We definitely hear the crowd getting louder, but at the same time, we try to focus on 94 by 50 feet and the players on the court, and we just try to focus on each other and not let any outside distractions affect how we play.
Ochefu said of that, “It’s always great to be able to play close to home and have our fans cheering us on and giving us that advantage. As Ryan said, we just try to focus on what we can control. That’s our effort and our attitude. And keeping it 94 by 50 feet, something we worked on all year, and we just have to keep getting better at it.”
Wright said of Villanova being ready for the second round with their recent history in the tournament, “Yeah, it’s really exciting for us. It really is. And it’s really probably what our biggest concern was. All season, if we would have answered those questions and we lost this game today, we’re idiots. To talk about that and to know how hard it is to get there would really be unintelligent. And that’s really what we told our guys during the year.
“We said, guys, it’s the job of the media to ask that question. It’s their job. We can’t answer — and if we answer, we’re idiots because we might not even get — we might not get to the tournament. We might not get past the first round. So we can’t do anything about that until we get there.
“I’m happy for them, how they’ve handled everything to get to this point. And now everyone’s going to ask the question. We’ve got to go do it. That’s the bottom line. If we don’t do it, it’s failure. But there’s nothing wrong with failure in sports if you give your best effort,” said Wright.
#7 Iowa 72, #10 Temple 70 (OT)
Iowa held off Temple in overtime in a game that was a tough battle the whole way.
Iowa had a 10-point lead, 51-41, with 13 minutes left, and Temple responded with an 8-2 run to pull back within four at the 11-minute mark, and it went down to the wire.
Temple’s Quenton DeCosey made a layup to cut Iowa’s lead to 62-60 with 13 seconds left.
Iowa’s Peter Jok was fouled soon after, and he missed one of two free throws to make it 63-60, and this kept it at a one-possession game and gave Temple a chance.
DeCosey was fouled on a three-point attempt with two seconds left, and he hit all three free throws to tie the game at 63 and send it into overtime.
In overtime, DeCosey got a three-point play to make it 68-66 with 2:40 left, and Jok responded with a three-point play of his own to give Iowa a 69-68 lead with 1:52 left.
Iowa’s Adam Woodbury got the game-winning basket, a layup, with four seconds left that made it 72-70.
Iowa was led by Jared Uthoff, who had 23 points and five rebounds. Peter Jok had 16 points and seven rebounds. Adam Woodbury had 10 points and five rebounds.
Temple was led by Quenton DeCosey, who had 26 points, eight rebounds, and an assist. Josh Brown had 16 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Jaylen Bond had a big day, with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Temple Head Coach Fran Dunphy said of the game, “Tremendous opportunity for us to be in a game like that, and for these two guys to finish their college basketball careers in a great game. Both of them stepped up and played outstanding basketball. I was proud of our guys for the non-quit factor in us. Obviously, I’m disappointed we’re not going to have a chance to play on Sunday, but, again, very proud of our guys. Give credit to Iowa. For what they did.”
Dunphy said of anything they could have done to change the outcome of this one, “Well, in the first half, I thought they had a stretch where they made every shot they took, and that put us in a little bit of a hole. So you’re hoping they’re not going to continue to shoot it as well as they did, and they did not. Was some of that us? Yeah, I hope so. Was some of that them just maybe got out of a rhythm or whatever? But I thought our defense throughout was good. There were a couple of go byes that we could not give up that they scored on, and obviously, the offensive rebounds, I’m a little surprised that we had as many offensive rebounds as they did. It seemed like in that flurry, that was really the only time they offensive rebounded it great, but it certainly hurt us. It took a lot out of us.
“But, again, I thought we were in pretty good shape as we made both comebacks, in the first half and the second half, and we had a two-point lead, I think, in the overtime and turned it two times over the next three, I believe. I’ll have to take a look at it.”
Dunphy said of how much his team accomplished this season, and how much it meant to his seniors to make the tournament, “Well, we talked a little bit about it in our post-game comments. Obviously, I feel for the seniors, tough game to go out on. Every game is tough to go out on whenever you lose. Obviously, a buzzer beater is even more difficult.
“They’re just wonderful guys, and they took good care of me in their time frame at Temple University. I was proud of a couple of different efforts — Quenton DeCosey making three foul shots, that’s a tough chore, and he stepped up and did that. One other play that just kind of stands out is Josh Brown on an unbelievable block in transition that just said, I’m representing my team. We’re not going to quit, and I’m going to give every ounce of effort I can. So those two, in particular, stand out. We had our chances, and, again, credit to Iowa.”
Big Five Matchup Won’t Happen
Villanova will face off with Iowa in the second round of the South regional on Sunday.
If Temple had won, it would have set up a Philadelphia Big Five matchup with Villanova on the big stage.
Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said of what it would have meant to be able to play Temple in the second round, “Definitely. Any game you play in the NCAA Tournament, it just takes on a whole different vibe. In ’09, when we played Pitt in the final eight, I remember people saying, well, it’s just another Big East game. It was not another Big East game. It was just so much bigger. The finality brings a lot more to the game.
“Big Five games are big in Philly, trust me, but this would be bigger,” said Wright.