No. 11 'Nova spoils Butler's Big East debut
Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - JayVaughn Pinkston scored 22 points and No. 11 Villanova outlasted Butler in a 76-73 overtime thriller at Hinkle Fieldhouse, spoiling the Bulldogs' first conference game in the Big East.
Darrun Hilliard added 15 points and Josh Hart netted 10 to help the Wildcats (12-1, 1-0 Big East) bounce back from their lone loss of the season, Saturday's 78-62 setback at second-ranked Syracuse.
Butler (10-3, 0-1) gave Villanova all it could handle in its Big East debut, however, fighting back from a nine-point second-half deficit to force overtime on Kellen Dunham's jumper with 21.5 seconds left in regulation.
Dunham also had back-to-back buckets in the extra session to bring the Bulldogs within 74-73 with 15.2 seconds remaining, but missed an off-balance 3-point attempt late and Butler turned the ball over in the closing stages to have a five-game win streak halted.
"[Television analyst] Bill Raftery said to me in the interview after the game that it was the same old Big East," said Wildcats head coach Jay Wright. "It really was. We knew (Butler) is an outstanding team."
Dunham ended with 22 points, while Elijah Brown put up a career-best 19 points off the bench for the Bulldogs.
The Wildcats netted the first eight points of the second half to build a 43-34 advantage less than three minutes into the period, but Butler slowly chipped away at the deficit. Dunham and Brown each buried triples during a 9-4 run that closed the gap, with Alex Barlow's 3-point play capping the spurt and trimming the lead to 49-48 with 13:41 remaining.
Villanova countered the flurry with an 8-2 sequence later on to go up 60-53 just past the midway mark of the second half, and held a 63-57 cushion with seven minutes left before the Bulldogs made another charge.
Butler ripped off seven straight points, with Brown's trey with 5:23 to play putting the Bulldogs up by one before Pinkston sent the Wildcats back in front on the ensuing possession.
Villanova was clinging to a 66-64 lead in the closing stages of regulation when Dunham hit a contested fadeaway just inside the 3-point line with 21.5 seconds on the clock. Pinkston's shot in the lane then rolled off the rim as time expired.
"We saw on film that he makes those kinds of shots," said Wright of Dunham. "We tried to force the ball out of his hands by trapping him when we could. He's just really dangerous in those situations."
The Wildcats opened overtime with five consecutive points, with Ryan Arcidiacono sinking a three to start off the session, and were up 74-69 with 34 seconds remaining prior to Dunham scoring on back-to-back trips to make it a one-point contest.
Butler had a chance for the win after Hilliard turned it over on an inbounds pass with 13.8 seconds showing. However, Dunham couldn't hit a corner 3-point try and the Wildcats' James Bell forced a jump ball with the arrow pointing Villanova's way with 5.9 seconds left.
Pinkston was then fouled and hit both free throws to send the Wildcats up by three, and a desperation pass down the court was stolen by Villanova as the clock ran out.
"In a close game like that, there's a lot of things that can go either direction that can change the game," said Butler head coach Brandon Miller. "Tonight, it didn't go our way."
Neither team was ahead by more than four points during an evenly played opening half that saw 10 lead changes, the last coming when Hilliard's two free throws with six seconds left sent Villanova into the break owning a 35-34 edge.
Villanova shot 50 percent from the field compared to a 39.7 percent rate for Butler, but the Bulldogs made 10-of-28 3-point attempts while the Wildcats went just 5-of-16 from beyond the arc ... The new conference foes had met just one time previously, a 62-54 Villanova win in the 1996 Puerto Rico Shootout ... The Wildcats improved to 3-0 on New Year's Eve since 2001, having bested Big Five rivals Temple (2003) and Penn (2004) on the date ... Brown's previous career high was 15 points, set against Oklahoma State on Nov. 29.
01/01 01:15:25 ET