Villanova Won A Slugfest Against Houston To Earn A Spot In The Final 4

For the third time in six years, the Villanova Wildcats are headed to the Final 4. Villanova took on the Houston Cougars on Saturday evening in the South Regional Final and took care of business, grinding out a 50-44 win over the champions of the American Athletic Conference.

It was not exactly an aesthetically pleasing first half of basketball. The vaunted Houston defense managed to keep Villanova’s offense in check rather well, as the Wildcats only put up 27 points on 28 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent shooting from three in the frame. While the trio of Jermaine Samuels, Caleb Daniels, and Eric Dixon scored 20 of those points, they had to work for everything they got. They did, however, do what they do better than any team in Division I history: get to the free throw line and make the other team pay, as they connected on all 10 of their attempts from the stripe.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, they struggled to turn defense into offense, as Villanova likewise gave them all they could handle on that end of the floor. The team only scored 20 points before the break and did not hit any of their eight attempts from three. Their top scorers, Taze Moore (six points) and and Jamal Shead (four), went 5-for-16 in the half, and as a team, Houston hit on 30.6 percent of their attempts from the field.

The second half was much of the same — Houston’s offense kept it from mounting a serious challenge, and every time they managed to start clawing back, something would happen to tilt the scales back in Villanova’s favor. Eventually, though, the Cougars were able to steady themselves and make it a one-possession game with 5:15 left thanks to an 11-2 run. Moore, in particular, kept coming up big, including when he scored the bucket to cut the Wildcat lead to two.

After a timeout, Villanova was once again able to build up a little breathing room on its very next possession thanks to a bucket by Collin Gillespie.

And just like that, Houston’s offense once again went cold. The team went four minutes following Moore’s bucket before it scored again, and while Villanova did not exactly run away with things, the Wildcats were able to score enough to keep the Cougars at arm’s length. Samuels led the way for Villanova with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Daniels provided 12 points and six rebounds off the bench. There is, however, one damper on this for the Wildcats, as Moore, the team’s starting guard and second-leading scorer, suffered a leg injury in the waning moments of the game and was unable to return.

Villanova will play either Kansas or Miami in the Final 4. The Jayhawks and Hurricanes will go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon at 2:20 p.m. ET.