My high school coach used to always say, “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” Champions don’t give up and roll over in the face of adversity. For Villanova, it took a hard fought effort to overcome a double digit point deficit to bring the game into overtime. Then in overtime, they would be able to break away and win the game. Now, they are the 3rd annual Battle 4 Atlantis Champions.
After getting to an early 10-4 lead over Iowa, the tide and momentum of the game started to shift directions.
Iowa would tie the game at 14 and then go on a 9-0 run to set the pace for the rest of the half. The Hawkeyes gave the Wildcats a taste of their own medicine, consistently running presses and traps that had them struggling. Villanova turned the ball over 12 times in the first half alone. Iowa converted these turnovers into 16 points that helped them build a 42-33 halftime lead. The Wildcats couldn’t get much going in the first half. Turnovers, ill-timed penalties, and sloppy play killed any sort of rhythm. However, the Wildcats shot better percentage wise (42.9%), but shot poorly when it came to three pointers (31.3%) and free throws (40%). Among the struggles, Daniel Ochefu and Iowa’s Melsahn Basabe received technical fouls. Ochefu was distraught after the call. He would sit the rest of the game after getting the technical foul. He logged eight minutes of play, scored no points, but had 4 blocks and 3 turnovers while he was on the floor.
In the second half, Iowa would not take it easy. They pushed the lead into double digits, and for about the first nine minutes of the half, it was all Iowa. Down by 12, Villanova started to pull something together. James Bell went on a hot streak, sinking 3 three pointers to put the Wildcats within reach. Villanova had a second wind, the whole team was revitalized. They played with a different demeanor than what they had displayed in the first half. A pair of Kris Jenkins free throws with 6:50 remaining would finally even up the game again. The game would go back and forth from here on out. With 1:16 remaining, Ryan Arcidiacono hit a three pointer to give Villanova the lead, 69-68. He would finish the night with 10 points. Roy Devyn Marble would answer back with a three point play, giving Iowa the lead. Arcidiacono, who made the clutch shot against Kansas, delivered once again when he sunk a second consecutive three pointer to give the lead back to the Wildcats. A foul by Dylan Ennis would bring Marble to the line, where he had an opportunity to make two free throws to give Iowa the lead. Marble missed the first shot and made the second, only tying the game. Josh Hart’s last second shot would go off the rim, and the game would go into overtime.
In overtime, an Aaron White and-one would give the Hawkeyes a three point lead right off the bat. After back-to-back three pointers from Jenkins and Ennis to put Villanova ahead, the lead would never switch hands again. The play of the young guns in the freshmen Hart and Jenkins came up big in overtime. Josh Hart had 4 points in overtime and showed great hustle down the stretch. Kris Jenkins made 5 of his 10 points of the game to help give Villanova the lead in overtime. James Bell would make one last free throw to make it 88-83, and then the confetti was in the air as Villanova won the Battle 4 Atlantis.
James Bell was named tournament MVP, he had 20 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in the win. JayVaughn Pinkston did not see any overtime action, but he had 14 points and 7 rebounds. Josh Hart also added another 14 points.
For Iowa, Roy Devyn Marble was the top scorer of the night with 24 points. He also had 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Zach McCabe had 14 points off the bench, including four three pointers. Point guard Mike Gesell chipped in 10 points and 3 assists.
Next up for Villanova is UPenn, where they will host the Quakers on Wednesday, December 4, 2013, at 8 p.m.