All photos courtesy Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
It has been a long few seasons for the Villanova Wildcats, and the first half of the 2012-13 campaign was not looking very much better. After winning the first three games of the season, Nova lost four of its next five, tumbling to the bottom of the Big East.
Since those early days of the season, it had been a slow and steady — and somewhat grueling — climb back to respectability. That is, until Saturday, when Villanova burst into the conference conversation with a 75-71 win over then-No. 3 Syracuse in overtime. It was Nova’s second win over a top 5-ranked team in less than a week, after the Wildcats beat Louisville on Jan. 22.
The team’s second-leading scorer this year, Ryan Arcidiacono, proved he could be counted on in any situation. With only 2.2 seconds remaining in regulation, Arcidiacono hit the game-tying three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
However, the bucket was redemption for the sharp-shooter. With only 25 seconds remaining, Arcidiacono bricked an attempt from long range, forcing his teammates to foul ‘Cuse star Michael Carter-Williams. At that point, he had only hit two of his 11 shot attempts on the afternoon.
Luckily, Carter-Williams bricked the first of a 1-and-1 free throw attempt, and JayVaughn Pinkston grabbed the rebound. Given that other chance, Arcidiacono did not hesitate, making the shot and sending the thousands of rabid fans into an absolute frenzy as Nova forced overtime.
The Wildcats outscored the Orange, 14-10, in the extra period.
Villanova would have never had the late opportunity had it not been for the heroics of sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard. Hilliard led the team with an astounding 25-point effort, bagging eight of his 11 shot attempts.
The Wildcats will now get some much-needed rest before their next game against No. 24 Notre Dame on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Syracuse will get a full weeks rest to lick there wounds; the Orange will travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday, Feb. 3.