Updated: Nov 20
Villanova's memory of losing to Penn was quickly erased Friday night, as the Wildcats tore through Maryland 57-40 at Finneran Pavilion. With this loss, Maryland Head Coach Kevin Willard's record at the Finn falls to 0-7.
Villanova set the tone early with opening threes from TJ Bamba, former Terrapin Hakim Hart, and Tyler Burton, catapulting themselves to an early 13-2 lead at the first media timeout. Maryland’s negative momentum from their losses to Davidson and UAB carried over, as the Terps shot 1-6 from the field to start the game.
Coach Neptune’s 'Cats jumped out to a 33-11 lead by the 5:50 mark — a 75% mark from the field certainly helped things to go with 6-8 shooting from three-point range. They would conclude the first half shooting 6-11 from deep and winning the rebounding battle 19-14.
Maryland entered the halftime break shooting 4-27 from the field. In the first half, the Terps made field goal total was equal to that of their turnovers.
Burton paced the ‘Cats with 10 points in the first half, while five different Villanova players hit at least one three.
The lead would balloon to 46-15 before the first media timeout of the second half. Maryland’s 2nd half shooting nightmares continued against Nova; after two consecutive games that saw Maryland shoot under 30% in the second half, the Turtles hit a new low with a sub-20 field goal percentage in the period.
Jahmir Young put Maryland over the 20-point mark with 9:07 left in the game. Julian Reese led the Terps in scoring with 10 points, while Tyler Burton ran the shop for ‘Nova with 15 points on 4-5 shooting and 6 rebounds.
Defensively, Villanova was playing up close and personal defense; flying around the perimeter and contesting shots while shoving (almost literally) the opposing big man away from the basket. They held the Terps to 24% shooting for the game and out-rebounded Maryland 35-28. The Wildcats were physical under the basket, clearing the big Maryland bodies and doing their job on the defensive glass.
After facing some scrutiny after their close loss to Penn, Villanova returned to normal with a convincing response. The Wildcats will head down to the Battle 4 Atlantis to face Texas Tech, then wrap the non-conference schedule with games against Kansas State, Saint Joseph’s, and UCLA before their Big East opener against Creighton.
Villanova said it with their chest on Friday; they are for real and gunning for the Big East crown. Neptune’s version of Villanova may not be precisely like Jay Wright’s team, but this game could indicate what this team can do against some of the best in the Big East and, just maybe, what could happen if these guys get to the NCAA tournament.