The Broncos entered the game coming off a loss to the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, in large part to a bad display of offense. That can be expected from a team with so many new faces. How they bounce back from performances like that will tell the tale of the season.
Both teams looked a little rattled to start. After a Tucker Haymond steal, Thomas Wilder hit the first points of the game with a three.
Villanova then went on a run, eventually pulling ahead 28-19. A large part of the run was the result of Western Michigan mishandling the ball. 11 of Villanova’s first 19 points came off turnovers.
Then it became the Thomas Wilder show again. After hitting a couple of free throws, he made a couple of nice drives, and then hit a nice pull back jumper, to pull the Broncos within 3. He also added a nice tip-in off his own miss to keep pace as Villanova started to heat up from beyond the arc.
That run continued until the half. Eric Paschall hit a three that bounced straight up and dropped as time was running out. That put ‘Nova up 44-33, but the score at the break wasn’t indicative of how close it was.
Paschall and Josh Hart led Villanova scorers at the half with 9 each. Wilder led the Broncos with 15.
Other than turnovers, the halftime stats were similar. WMU held a rebounding edge 15-10 and both teams shot well. 52.2% for WMU, and 53.6% for ‘Nova.
Coming out of the half, WMU was able to close the gap to 47-42. Wilder and Haymond missed open threes that would have really helped.
The Villanova crowd started to wake up when Paschall put the Wildcats up 52-44. They stretched the lead to 10 with 12 minutes left in the game, and I thought it was a crucial time for the Broncos. They were in a bit of a lull, and the Wildcats were starting to get some momentum.
Josh Davis responded with a pump fake at the three point line and then drove through 3 defenders, finishing with a dunk. Both team slugged through the next minute and then Davis did it again, to pull WMU within 6 with 9:30 to go.
Freshman Reggie Jones hit a couple of nice jumpers, and Wilder hit a couple of free throws to pull WMU within 3 with 6:18 left in the game. At this point, one of Hustlebelt’s own was on ESPN’s “Outside The Lines”. The game was so exciting, I kept watching basketball.
Villanova made a run, behind a couple of Josh Hart three pointers, and one by Paschall. WMU battled back, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
Villanova won 76-65, the final margin tied for their biggest lead of the game.
Thomas Wilder played well, and led all scorers with 19. Seth Dugan added 12 points and 8 rebounds for the Broncos. Josh Davis looked great, adding 14 off the bench. Overall, the Broncos played much better on offense than they did against Oakland.
The Wildcats were led by Paschell, who had 17 off the bench. Hart had 14 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
Both teams shot over 50%, and another encouraging sign for the Broncos, they led in rebounding, 30-22.
Overall, it was a good performance for the Broncos, and one I am sure the young players on the team will build on.