PITTSBURGH — On Friday, junior guard Justin Moore led the No. 2-seeded Villanova Wildcats past 15-seeded Delaware in an NCAA Tournament first-round matchup at PPG Paints Arena.
Delaware came out of the gates hot, hitting 11 of its first 20 shots en route to an early six-point lead. Guard Kevin Anderson hit his first three shots, and the Blue Hens had the crowd behind them, begging for an upset after an underwhelming first game of the day.
However, the Hens’ hot shooting didn’t last forever, and the Wildcats quickly came storming back.
Villanova’s Collin Gillespie caught fire, sinking two threes in a row after starting the game 0-3. Jermaine Samuels, Villanova’s explosive forward, took it upon himself to bring the ‘Cats in front, throwing down dunks and swatting away Delaware’s inside looks.
“No matter what was going on, we were getting up and down, just making sure we were continuing to play Villanova basketball,” Gillespie said. “We knew that was the possibility, just trying to figure out what they were doing, how they were guarding defensively and how they were attacking us offensively. So we were just telling each other stick together, 40-minute game, and that’s what we were going to do.”
The ‘Cats settled in behind Gillespie and Samuels, going on a 15-2 run to end the half and taking a ten-point lead into the break.
The second half was more of the same, as Moore opened the frame with a three, followed by a Gillespie layup and a Dixon three to bring the lead up to 18. Villanova shot 51% from the field in the win, as well as 46% from three-point range.
“We were reading the ball screen coverage and if they were coming to help, who was helping,” Moore said. “Once we figured that out, we were able to figure out when we could take our open shots, make that extra pass, and find the bigs posting up.”
Moore exploded for a 21-point performance, while Samuels followed with 15 and Gillespie added 14. In addition to their point totals, Moore grabbed four rebounds, Samuels had nine rebounds, and Gillespie dished out four assists.
For Delaware, Jyare Davis led the way with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting to lead the team, while sophomore Pennsylvania native Andrew Carr tallied 13 points in the loss. Guard Jameer Nelson Jr. struggled, hitting just three of his 13 shot attempts to finish with eight points. With the loss, the CAA champion Blue Hens finished the season with a 22-13 record.
Villanova now moves on to the round of 32, where it will take on Ohio State on Sunday, once again in Pittsburgh.