Saturday, February 14, 2015
The Butler defense made a crucial mistake late in the game by not covering the hottest shooter in Hinkle Fieldhouse. A pair of defenders got caught running at Ryan Arcidiacono, who sent a pass to a wide open Hilliard for the winning jumper from the right wing.
Hilliard went 9-of-16 from the floor, including 8-of-13 from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs called a perfect play with less than two seconds left. Kelan Martin ended up getting a nice look at a tying trey after a full-court pass from underneath their own basket, but his attempt was well off the mark as Villanova held on.
JayVaughn Pinkston added 12 points for the Wildcats (23-2, 10-2 Big East), who have won six straight.
Alex Barlow and Kellen Dunham each scored 19 points in the loss. The Bulldogs (18-7, 8-4) had their five-game winning streak halted.
Butler scored the first six points of the second half to take a 28-27 lead. Dunham netted the final four of that run and ended up scoring 10 straight points as the Bulldogs gained some separation.
Hilliard dropped in consecutive 3-pointers later on to give Villanova a 50-48 lead with 10 minutes to play. The Wildcats continued to pour in shots from beyond the arc, as Dylan Ennis' trey pushed the lead to 53-49.
Roosevelt Jones, one of Butler's top scorers, made his first basket with 5:41 to play that brought the hosts within one. Barlow canned a 3 with 2:44 left that gave the Bulldogs a 63-62 lead. Barlow then committed a shooting foul of Hilliard shooting a 3, and Hilliard made each free throw to put Villanova back in front.
The Bulldogs had a pair of chances on the following possession. Andrew Chrabascz missed from in close, grabbed his own rebound and kicked it out to Barlow, who was short on his 3-point attempt. Jones tied the game with a layup after Hilliard was whistled for a double dribble with 17 seconds on the clock.
It was an offensive struggle in the early going, as Butler grabbed an 11-10 lead following Martin's 3-pointer midway through the first half. Four Wildcats contributed to an 11-4 run later in the half that helped Villanova to a 27-19 edge, then Barlow nailed a trey to close the Butler gap just before halftime.
Villanova held the Bulldogs to 29.6 percent shooting in the opening half.
Notes: Jones finished with six points on 2-of-11 shooting in the loss ... Villanova went 23-of-50 from the floor, and held Butler to 21-of-51 shooting ... Hilliard had eight rebounds ... Kameron Woods ripped a game-high 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs.