(photo by Rick McIntyre, Excel High School Sports/McIntyre Imaging)
(story by Steven Stremming)
Monday night in Mackey Arena, on the campus of Purdue University, the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats came to do battle with the home standing Boilermakers.
To all in the arena, the active sound became a roar as both teams entered the floor and it carried through till the end.
Playing like it was a final eight game in the NCAA tournament both teams took turns slugging at each other, so much the first half ended when Brebeuf Jesuit graduate P J Thompson banked in a 47 foot three-point shot to tie the game at 39 a piece.
In the end it was the mental toughness of Head Coach Jay Wright’s team that won out, plus the play of senior Josh Hart (8-17, 7-11, 24 points along with three rebounds and two steals).
Three other Wildcats scored in double figures, Darryl Reyonds, (12 points, 8 rebounds), Eric Paschall (47- 11 points) and sophomore Jalen Brunson (3-5, 4-4 , 10 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals).
Mikal Bridges gave enthusiasm from the Wildcat bench with seven points and four rebounds.
Isaac Haas scored 22 points, 18 after the half and Caleb Swanigan, 20 points, 8 rebounds) and Vincent Edwards (10 points) scored in double figures for the Boilers.
Purdue’s Basil Smotherman came off Head Coach Matt Painter’s bench with energy as he scored five points, grabbed six rebounds and three assists.
Villanova shot 48% percent from the floor, while hitting seven of seventeen three point shots, while claiming 30 rebounds, 12 assists, seven steals and 11 turnovers.
Purdue shot 49% percent from the floor, while hitting eight of twenty-two three point shots, wile claiming 33 rebounds, 26 assists, two steals and 15 turnovers.
Mike Roberts, James Breeding and Paul Szelc officiated.