The #8 Villanova Wildcats took another tough loss to the Furman Paladins by a score of 76-68 in OT. Coming off a blowout loss against the Michigan Wolverines, the Wildcats played better statistically but their effort still came up short. The ‘Cats were led by senior Phil Booth and sophomore Colin Gillespie who had 20 and 19 points respectively. The Paladins had a balanced attack with 5 players scoring 13 points or more each, led by junior Jordan Lyles.
In the first half, the Wildcats came out with intense energy led by senior Eric Paschall who slammed home a thunderous dunk which brought the crowd into a frenzy. That was arguably the only bright spot in Paschall’s night as he finished with only 8 points on 3-14 from-the-field and 2-11 from three-point range. This is the second straight game that Paschall has underperformed his pre-season expectations. Despite the rough night for Paschall, the ‘Cats led 36-31 at the break.
In the second half, Furman staged a comeback to give the ‘Cats a fight. After slowly cutting into the lead, Booth stripped the ball, slammed it home and then hit a 3 pointer to swing the momentum into Villanova’s favor. However, Furman never gave up, eventually taking a 58-53 lead with roughly 4 minutes remaining in regulation. With the sold-out Finneran Pavilion getting rowdy, senior Joe Cremo along with Booth and Gillespie led a 7-0 run to take a 60-58 lead with less than a minute remaining. Tied at 60-60 with seconds remaining, Cremo was called for a controversial foul putting Furman senior Matt Rafferty on the line for a 1-and-1 opportunity. With a cascade of noise coming from the stands, Rafferty missed the free throw, sending the game into overtime. In overtime, Furman went on a 7-0 run that gave the Paladins a 69-63 lead which they were able to hold for the win.
Coming off a 21-turnover performance against Michigan, the ‘Cats turned the ball over 14 times. This continues a sloppy beginning of the season for Villanova who have typically been known for their ball security. Another worrisome trend is the poor shooting for the ‘Cats who shot 31.8% from deep and 33.8% overall. After last season’s record setting three-point shooting, Villanova may need to find a different strategy on offense for this season.
A final interesting takeaway from the game is that 5-star recruit Jahvon Quinerly played 0 minutes tonight. After averaging 13 minutes over the first three games, Quinerly was removed from the rotation tonight with no announced reason. Quinerly possesses the ball-handling and offensive creativity that the ‘Cats offense may be missing so far this season.