The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Boston College Eagles, 77-56, on Saturday evening in the sixth edition of the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center.
Both teams started shooting 33 percent from the field as Boston College jumped to a lead at the start of the matchup. Boston College went cold and scoreless for over three and a half minutes as Villanova jumped out to an early six-point lead.
As the half progressed, play slowed as both squads played a lot more half-court offense and the physicality increased. This affected the Wildcats as Boston College (5-6) ratcheted up the defense and proceeded to hold Villanova without a field goal for over four minutes until an Eric Dixon layup broke the streak. The Eagles could not take advantage of their stellar defense as they committed nine turnovers in the first half to halt any momentum offensively.
After Dixon's layup, Villanova hit two consecutive threes from Brendan Hausen and Mark Armstrong to extend the 'Nova lead to 30-21 at the 4:14 mark of the first half. Prince Aligbe's three-point play cut the deficit to six for Boston College. Once again, Villanova's outside shooting stopped Boston College cold as threes from Cam Whitmore and Caleb Daniels extended the Wildcat lead to 11 as they went into the half leading 40-30.
"I thought we were much more focused at the start of the game, said Villanova head coach Kyle Neptune. "Our starts have been a concern at times. We talk throwing the first punch and about setting the tone and we did that initially. Credit to them (Boston College), they took a couple of shots at us, but in the end, I liked where we were."
Whitmore led Villanova with 13 points at the half, while Aligbe scored eight points for Boston College.
At the first media timeout of the second half, Villanova held a 48-36 lead. Every time Boston College tried to get some momentum early in the half, Villanova had an answer with a basket or free throws. Even with Villanova answering, both teams shot dreadfully from the field as they each shot under 40 percent from the field during the first portion of the second half.
Villanova (5-5) moved out to their largest lead of the game at 65-46 at the 6:58 mark of the second half after a Whitmore breakaway slam that brought the pro-Wildcat crowd to its feet. Two consecutive threes from Hausen were the daggers for Boston College as the Wildcat lead swelled to 24 points, and from there, it became academic after that for Villanova as they won their third-ever Never Forget Tribute Classic.
Whitmore finished with a game-high 19 points off the bench. Mark Armstrong added 13 for Villanova, who forced 14 turnovers converted into 15 points.
For Boston College, DeMarr Langford Jr. and Mason Madsen led the Eagles with 13 points as they shot just 30 percent from beyond the arc.
"They (Villanova) capitalized on some of our decision-making and shot selection," said Boston College head coach Earl Grant. "They went on these 6-2 runs, they did it three times and we weren't able to do the same to them. They were more sound with the ball and took a few better shots."
The Never Forget Tribute Classic Continues In Newark
The Never Forget Tribute Classic is an annual event that remembers those who lost their lives during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The proceeds from Saturday's game benefitted the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Never Forget Fund. While this year's version had just one game instead of the two it has normally featured, the reason that this event is held every year is not lost on the programs and coaches.
"I'm a New Yorker so 9/11 touched me as it did a lot of people," said Neptune. "This game is for a great cause, so I am glad we were able to take part."
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