Photo Credit: Villanova Basketball
13:45 remaining in the game, Villanova leading UConn 41-36. Jahvon Quinerly gets the steal and bounce passes it to Phil booth for the layup to give the Wildcats their biggest lead of the game. From this point on, the Wildcats never looked back and they were able to dominate the Huskies for the rest of the game en route to an 81-58 victory at Madison Square Garden. Quinerly finished with 10 points and four assists on Saturday, but that one play proved that freshman guard Jahvon Quinerly stayed ready for this opportunity despite everything that has happened.
With Sophomore guard Colin Gillespie out due to an injury, and playing in an arena close to his hometown of Hackensack, New Jersey, there was no question that Jahvon Quinerly was going to embrace the opportunity and play well. “It’s an opportunity like this that present itself and I’m just continuing to learn how to be a better Villanova basketball player and I’m going to keep getting better and better everyday”. Coach Jay Wright knew that the performance from Quinerly was going to happen and as he explained after the game it showed that he stayed ready. “He responded and he showed that he’s been working on what we do even though he hasn’t been playing, and it’s so rare. It’s just a great example of what college sports is all about as he grows into a young man. He’s continuing to grow as a player and I’m proud of him”.
The combo of Quinerly and Senior Phil Booth along with Eric Paschall combined for 49 of Villanova’s 81 points in the win. It was a great end to a non-conference slate that had its ups and downs and the Wildcats continue to be confident in their abilities and improving everyday as Paschall described during the postgame press conference on Saturday, they are going to progress going forward. “We’re just trying to be the best team we can be by the end of the year, and today was a great step in that direction. Just being out there having each others back just being a collective group out there and having a group effort in terms of Villanova Basketball and it was a really great. I’m proud of this team and the direction that we are going”.
Eric Paschall (21 points 6 Rebounds vs UConn) continues to believe in himself and the team after the win vs UConn in their non conference finale.
Coach Jay Wright spoke about how what he tells his players about handling distractions from fans and media throughout the non conference part of the season and he set the record straight about his thoughts about the problems that happened. “We just taking it one day at a time. We are just trying to be the best Villanova basketball team that we can be by the end of the year, we really do that and I understand you guys have to ask the questions about losing but “ Jahvon hasn’t been here, Cremo hasn’t been here, Swilder hasn’t been here. Those guys haven’t experienced all of this. Half of them haven’t even played in the Garden. So I explain to them that everyone in the media has a job to do and fans are fans but you have to stay focused on this particular team which is getting better everyday and that’s all what we’re just trying to do”.
The Wildcats win over UConn on Saturday was the ninth straight non-conference win for Big East Teams over the past two seasons at Madison Square Garden. It’s big for the conference that locked up an extension with the arena for its conference tournament through 2028. Now that the non-conference part of the season is over Villanova’s focus going forward will be continuing to be the best team they can be by March and still work towards contending for the big east regular season title and repeating as conference tournament champions.