Villanova wins South Regional Bracket and advances to Final Four winning 50-44


Dalton Hartmann

James Moore shoots a three-pointer during Villanova’s Sweet Sixteen matchup against the University of Michigan on Thursday, 24. Moore was Villanova’s second leading scorer during the regular season, but suffered a torn achilles during Villanova’s Elite Eight victory over Houston on Saturday. How Villanova navigates his absence is one of the key stories heading into the Final Four.

Luke Lawhorn, Assistant Sports Editor

After winning their games in the Sweet Sixteen Thursday, March 24, the No. 2 seed Villanova Wildcats (29-7) played the No. 5 seed Houston Cougars (32-5) in the Elite Eight, with the winner advancing to the Final Four at Caesar’s Superdome in New Orleans, La. 

The game started tough for the Cougars, going scoreless the first two and a half minutes and not scoring another two points until just over 12 minutes left in the half. There were multiple forced shots from Villanova’s closeout defense and some bad passes which turned into turnovers. Villanova also shot a perfect 10 out of 10 from the line, while Houston shot four out of six (66.7%). 

The halftime score was 27-20, with each team having six players score. The Wildcats shot 28% from the floor and 25% from three while Houston shot 30.8% from the floor and zero out of eight from three. Villanova was simply more disciplined in their shot selection and let nothing come easy. With both teams shooting poorly, the first half came down to Villanova getting and making easier shots. 

The first nine minutes of the second half started the same for the teams. Both teams missed a bunch of shots and while Nova made all their free throws, Houston only made four out of eight. The Wildcats outscored the Cougars 11-9 in that span, making it seem as if Houston dug too deep of a hole to climb out of. With just under 10 minutes left, UH went on a little run to cut the score to 40-34 with eight and a half minutes to play, lighting the crowd on fire. 

The run continued, forcing Villanova to call a timeout with a little over five minutes remaining and the score sitting at 42-40. Houston’s points mostly came from layups and drawn fouls, sending them to make a point or two at the line while also playing great defense, holding the Wildcats to just two points for over five minutes of play. Collin Gillespie hit a tough shot with five minutes left, followed by several more Wildcat possessions where they got offensive rebounds and ate more time off the clock. 

After more missed threes from Houston, one out of 15 at that point, the score was 46-40 with just under two minutes left on the clock and Villanova had possession. Villanova scored a bucket and Houston scored four points, cutting the lead to 48-44 with just 59 seconds remaining. After a missed layup by Houston’s Taze Moore with 30 seconds remaining, it forced the Cougars to foul Gillespie, sending him to the line and making both free throws with 25 seconds remaining. After two more missed threes from UH, the game was sealed, sending Villanova to the Final Four with a 50-44 win. 

Moore was the only player for UH in double figures with 15 points, while Kyler Edwards had nine. Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels had a game-high 16 points, and Caleb Daniels had 12 off the bench. 

Houston shot 5% from the three, 29.8% from the floor and 64.3% from the free-throw line, while Villanova shot 23.8% from the three, 28.8% from the floor and 100% from the free-throw line. Both teams played sloppy and shot very poorly, however, Houston was worse which ended their season. 

Villanova advances to the Final Four where they will take on the winners of the Midwest region, No. 1 seed Kansas on Saturday, April 2, in New Orleans, La. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:09 p.m. EST.