March 24, 2018 / 2:27 AM / 9 months ago

Villanova pulls away late to beat West Virginia

EditorsNote: update 2: updates third graf with Villanova’s next opponent

Jalen Brunson scored 27 points to carry Villanova past West Virginia in an East Regional semifinal of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night in Boston.

Omari Spellman added 18 points, Mikal Bridges scored 16 and Eric Paschall had 14 for the top-seeded Wildcats, who improved to 33-4 and will play in the Elite Eight on Sunday.

Villanova will face third-seeded Texas Tech with a chance to advance to the Final Four for the second time in the last three seasons. The Wildcats won the national championship in 2016. The Red Raiders beat second-seeded Purdue 78-65 on Friday.

Villanova hit 13 of 24 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

Daxter Miles Jr. led fifth-seeded West Virginia (26-11) with 16 points before fouling out while Sagaba Konate and Jevon Carter added 12 apiece. Esa Ahmad contributed 11 and Teddy Allen had 10.

Carter capped an 8-0 run with a short baseline jumper to put West Virginia ahead 50-47 early in the second half. Ahmad followed with a layup on the next possession for a 52-47 advantage, the Mountaineers’ largest lead.

The Wildcats responded with the next five points to tie the game.

West Virginia kept up with its relentless pressure and bolted to a 60-54 lead when Carter hit a layup with 11:04 remaining.

Villanova responded to tie the game at 60 as Brunson scored four points and Paschall added two free throws.

Bridges then knocked down a 3-pointer from the baseline and Spellman grabbed an offensive rebound and threw down a two-handed dunk, capping an 11-0 Villanova run that gave the Wildcats a 65-60 lead with 8:59 left.

Brunson later found Spellman for a deep trey, and Villanova pulled ahead 71-64. On the next possession, Paschall exploded to the basket for a dunk that gave the Wildcats a 73-64 advantage.

Brunson’s step-back 3-pointer pushed the lead to 76-66 with 5:20 left.

Late in the first half, Brunson scored 11 consecutive points to give Villanova a 37-35 lead.

After struggling with West Virginia’s press, which caused nine first-half turnovers, the Wildcats had a late surge and went into the locker room with a 44-42 lead.

Brunson led all scorers with 16 first-half points.

The Mountaineers shot 48 percent in the first half, but only made 4 of 14 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

Overall, Villanova outshot West Virginia from the floor, 50 percent to 38.6 percent.

—Field Level Media

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