The Villanova Wildcats won the Big East Championship on Thursday by beating Xavier 77-70. It’s the first Big East championship for the Wildcats since the 1981-82 season.
Ryan Arcidiacono made two free-throws that gave the Wildcats a 29-28 lead with just over five minutes left in the first half. The Wildcats held the lead for the rest of the game after that. Their biggest led was 12 points. The lead was just three points before Josh Hart and James Bell made two free throws each in the final 19 seconds of the game. Bell had 12 points, Arcidiacono had 11 points, and JayVaughn Pinkston had 15 points, with eight in the last three minutes for the Wildcats. The win was the fifth straight win for the Wildcats which extends the school record for regular season wins, and it was their 11th win in 12 games, according to the Associated Press.
"You're not going to win championships unless you win on the road," Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. "We have great respect for this league. To win this league is a hell of an accomplishment."
He added, "We knew they wouldn't go away. They played without one of their best players. We caught a break there.
Xavier struggled from 3-point range, making six of 23 three-point shots. The Wildcats were 9 for 23 from 3-point range. Xavier finished the regular season with consecutive losses, CBS Sports notes.
The Wildcats, who shared the title with Syracuse in 2005-06, finish their regular season on Saturday against Georgetown. They had a one and a half game lead over Creighton in the Big East entering Thursday’s game. The Wildcats have clinched the top seed for the Big East tournament, which begins Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York.