Game Recap (Men’s Basketball): #1Villanova vs #16 Radford
By: Michael Hamby
The first round of the tournament saw #1 Villanova taking on #16 Radford in what was a very impressive showing for the Wildcats. From start to finish Nova dominated this game, and it all began from the tip. Surprisingly, Radford jumped out to the early lead thanks to a very nice Christian Bradford three pointer. Villanova quickly responded with a three of their own and from then, it was all Wildcats. Behind some very nice play from Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, Villanova lead 22-8 at the under 12 media timeout. The beatdown continued for Nova, as their great guard play propelled them to a stout 34-12 at the under 8 timeout. Brunson lead all players with 12 points on 5-6 shooting and 2-2 from 3pt range. Not much occurred in the next four minutes of gametime, though some very nice passing from Villanova did help them push their lead once again 39-16. Radford played much better on the defensive half in this section, which lead to some nice transition buckets. Radford managed to close the gap down the stretch though, finishing off the half outscoring the Wildcats 7-4 to cut the lead to 21. At the half, the score was Villanova 44, Radford 23.
The stellar offensive performance continued for Brunson, as he scored two more baskets to start the second half, bringing his total to 16. Radford however would not go down without a fight, and kept pace with Villanova. However, as the case usually is with 16 vs 1 seeds, the 1 will just out play the 16. Such was the case as we hit our first media timeout of the second half, with Nova leading 58-29. The three were soon falling in quick succession for Brunson and Co. allowing for the Wildcats to continue to push their lead. After some more stellar back and forth between both teams, with Nova getting the better of the two, the score reached 69-37 with 11:45 remaining. Radford had been spreading the wealth, with several players scoring in the second half. Most notably Donald Hicks, who lead the Highlanders with 10 points. After another round of back and forth the teams continued to be at about the same pace, with Villanova still commanding the game 75-44 at the 7:31 mark. As the game wound down, Villanova continued to keep their foot on the gas, and kept Radford at a 30 point difference. The fans for Radford continued to show unwavering support, cheering and jeering as though this was a two point game the whole way down the stretch. A racaus ovation erupted for both teams as, with a minute remaining, they subbed off their starters.
So, as the final whistle sounded here in PPG Paints Arena, the Villanova Wildcats marched on. The final score was 87-61, as emotions were seen across every player on the Radford team. Jalen Brunson was the top scorer in the game with 16 points, Radford’s Donald Hicks led his team with 14. The #1 Wildcats dance on, looking to play the winner of tonight’s final game: 9 Alabama vs 8 Virginia Tech.