This 2012 Villanova basketball team may not accumulate substantial quantities of wins, but we know they have a lot of heart. With resilience, perseverance, and a little help from the officials, the Cats took down Purdue 89-81 in OT in the ESPN 2K Sports semifinal at Madison Square Garden. hey advance to play Alabama in the final, who edged Oregon State 65-62.
Sophomore Darrun Hilliard led the Cats (3-0) with a career-high 22 points and diaper dandy Ryan Arcidiacono scored 18 points and dished out 6 assists. Arch hit three big treys in the first half and drained 9-10 free throws, two of which tied the game with under a minute to go. The freshman struggled from the field, as the only three of his 14 shots were three-pointers. His seven turnovers also did not help the Villanvoa cause.
Senior big men Maurice Sutton and Mouphtaou Yarou were ineffective down low, and showed few signs that this team was one of the best rebounding teams in the country last season. Yarou rebounded decently by collecting seven boards, but scored just four points in 19 minutes. Sutton played sparingly and did not make a field goal, but he cashed in on four big foul shots in overtime to finish off the game. Sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston dropped 16 points before fouling out in overtime.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 49-40 lead after a Sutton free throw with 14:18 to go in the second half. Purdue ensued with a 21-4 run, and the Boilermakers led 61-53 with 7:14 to go. Nova went three and a half minutes without scoring at one point during that run.
The Cats got within three with 3:07 left when Yarou made one of two free throws, but a Ronnie Johnson jump shot and Terone Johnson three pointer put Purdue up 70-62 with just under two minutes to go. The teams traded points until 1:03 left when the Boilermakers were up by seven. Hilliard responded with a huge three to put Nova within four, and then it got intense.
After both teams made a pair of free throws, D.J. Byrd took the ball up the court for Purdue after JayVaughn Pinkston cashed in from the charity stripe. Hilliard and Bell trapped Byrd in the corner, and the Purdue guard swung his elbows, knocking down Hilliard. After an official review, they ruled the foul a flagrant and awarded Villanova a pair of free throws and the ball. Hilliard knocked down the foul shots, and then Arcidiacono hit another two on the ensuing possession to tie the game. Both teams missed buzzer beater attempts and the game went to overtime.
In OT, James Bell drained two clutch threes to put the Cats up by four with two minutes to go. The Cats made their foul shots and distanced themselves from the Boilermakers. As the final buzzer went off, the Cats celebrated the slight upset in the early minutes of Friday morning in New York.