#18 Villanova loses all three games against Big 5 opponents | Villanova vs. Drexel Recap
Written by David Szczepanski on December 4, 2023
In the inaugural Philly Big 5 Classic, Villanova matched up with the other 0-2 team, Drexel, in a 2pm game for 5th place. The Wildcats suffered their third straight Big 5 loss to the Dragons, 57-55. It’s just Villanova’s second ever loss to Drexel in their twenty meetings over the years.
Villanova’s Game Stats: The Offensive Struggles Continue
Villanova shot just 32.8% from the field and 18.5% from three. Once again, Eric Dixon led the Wildcats with 21 points and three rebounds in 29 minutes. Off the bench, Jordan Longino provided some much-needed scoring with 13 points and three assists, but unfortunately, it was not enough for the Wildcats. TJ Bamba and Tyler Burton struggled again. Bamba was just 1-8 from the field for four points. Burton grabbed five rebounds, but he only scored three points on 1-8 shooting from the field. He was a -10 on the court.
Amari Williams continued his solid season for the Drexel Dragons. He scored 12 points with six rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes of game action. Luke House made three three-pointers while scoring 11 points. Justin Moore shot 50% from the field (3 for 6) for seven points with six rebounds. Drexel did not have any scorers reach more than 12 points, but they had more balanced scoring than Villanova.
The Wildcats won the rebound battle, 38-30. They also only turned the ball over six times compared to twelve times for Drexel. Villanova played great defense, but the Wildcats could not find ways to score, which has been a theme in their last two games since the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. Their starters have struggled, and the three-point shooting is almost nonexistent. In the last two games, Villanova is shooting 15-64 (23%) from three.
Game Recap: First Half
Villanova did not score in the first three minutes of Saturday’s game. They finally got on the board with an Eric Dixon layup after a steal by Justin Moore. With 10:31 left to play, there were only twenty points scored between both teams. Dragons led 11-9 after a driving layup by Lucas Monroe. At halftime, the Dragons led the Wildcats, 26-25. Drexel shot 44% from the field and made four threes while Villanova shot just 28.6% from the field. The Wildcats were also losing the paint battle by four points in the first. Dixon scored 12 of the Wildcats’ 25 points.
The low scoring battle continued in the second half. At the first media timeout of the second half, Drexel had extended their lead to five points. With 11:08 left to play in the game, Dixon made the free throw to complete a three-point play to cut the Villanova deficit to just one point, 41-40. However, the Wildcats struggled to score after that by missing multiple threes, including one from Burton and one from Brendan Hausen. Lamar Oden Jr. made a jump shot to give Drexel their largest lead of the day at eight points with 5:26 left.
The Wildcats could feel the pressure within the Wells Fargo Center. They responded with a 7-0 run capped off with two Eric Dixon free throws. Villanova trailed by just one point with less than two minutes to play. Amari Williams responded back for Drexel with a tough layup. Jordan Longino then made a jump shot off a nice pass from TJ Bamba to get the deficit back to just one point. Coach Neptune called timeout to discuss things before Drexel’s possession with 65 seconds remaining. Villanova’s Justin Moore fouled Amari Williams to send him to the line. Williams, who is a 70% free throw shooter, split the free throws. The Wildcats trailed, 57-55, with 30 seconds left. Coach Neptune called his full timeout with just six seconds left. Out of the timeout, Justin Moore’s shot in the paint was blocked by Williams. Drexel and Williams celebrated as they handed last place in the Philly Big 5 Classic to the #18 Wildcats.
Philly Big 5 Classic Scores: The Hawks Win
La Salle defeated Penn, 93-92, in overtime after Khalil Brantley hit a three-pointer from the logo as time expired.
Saint Joseph’s defeated Temple, 74-65, to win the inaugural Philly Big 5 Classic.
The Road Ahead for Villanova
Villanova looks to snap their two-game losing streak on Tuesday night at 7pm against 6-2 Kansas State in Kansas. The Wildcats are now 6-3. Steve and I will recap this recent stretch of Villanova basketball on this week’s live episode of Villanova Sports Talk on Thursday at 12pm.