Despite continued offensive struggles, Villanova gets back into the win column against UCLA | Villanova vs. UCLA Recap
Written by David Szczepanski on December 11, 2023
In front of a packed student section and arena at the Wells Fargo Center, Villanova defeats UCLA, 65-56. The Wildcats snap their three-game losing streak and improve to 4-3 against the Bruins all time.
Overall Game Stats
Villanova: Burton and Hart have great games
Despite winning the game by nine points, Villanova shot just 33% from the field and 31.4% from three. The Wildcats’ offense struggled for most of the game, but they came alive at the right time to win the game.
Tyler Burton led all scorers with 18 points despite shooting 3-12 from the field. However, he made 11 of 14 shots from the charity stripe. He also finished with ten rebounds to complete the double-double. Philly native Hakim Hart played well again with 10 points, five rebounds and two assists while being a +17 on the court. He made three of five three-point attempts.
Lazar Stefanovic led the Bruins with 14 points. Adem Bona played almost 30 minutes for 11 points and eight rebounds. UCLA’s average leading scorer, Sebastian Mack, shot just 3-10 from the field for six points. As a team, UCLA shot 36.7% from the field and 36.8% from behind the arc.
At the first media timeout, Villanova led UCLA, 7-5. The Wildcats made two of their first five three-point attempts in the first four minutes. After a mid-range jump shot from Stefanovic to tie the game at seven, Villanova went on a 6-0 run to take a 13-7 lead. Tyler Burton scored four early points for the Wildcats and Villanova was playing good defense.
Unfortunately for Villanova, the Bruins used a 10-0 run led by Dylan Andrews to take a 20-19 lead at the final media timeout of the first half. Mark Armstrong and Hakim Hart responded for Villanova, but the offense continued to struggle and allowed UCLA to get their second 10-0 run of the first half. The Bruins took a 29-25 lead into halftime.
Dylan Andrews scored eight points for UCLA. Adem Bona had six points and four rebounds. UCLA made 43% of their shots from the field. Despite not shooting the three well in their first seven games, the Bruins knocked down five of ten three-point attempts in the first twenty minutes. Villanova shot just 25% from the field and 21% from behind the arc. They took 19 three-point attempts in the first half. Tyler Burton led all scorers with nine points and six rebounds, but Villanova struggled to get good bench scoring and lost the battle in the paint.
Second Half: Wildcats complete the comeback as the offense comes alive late
Like the Kansas State game, Villanova found some offense in the second half. They tied the game at 31 with 15:48 left in regulation. Both teams would go back and forth with UCLA holding a slight lead until Villanova took a 39-38 lead after a TJ Bamba dunk with 14 minutes remaining. UCLA continued to battle despite the loud environment at the Wells Fargo Center. They would take a 45-41 lead with just eight minutes left to play.
Hakim Hart erased the deficit with four quick points in about 45 seconds to tie the game at 45. The Wildcats used the momentum to build an 11-0 run and 52-45 lead with just 4:38 left to play. The Bruins went on a key scoring drought over four minutes where they turned the ball over three times. Villanova took advantage of those opportunities and knocked down the shots when they needed to most.
The closest the Bruins came the rest of the game to a victory was a four-point deficit with just 70 seconds left. Villanova made their free throws to seal the victory by a final score of 65-56. Despite not shooting well, especially in the first half, Villanova used their talent advantage to make shots in crunch time against UCLA’s brilliant defense.
The Road Ahead for Villanova-Big East Play
The Wildcats improve to 7-4. It was not a perfect game by Villanova, but they get back into the win column for the first time since November 24th. Their next game is on Wednesday, December 20th against #8 Creighton in Omaha for the start of Big East play.