Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 22 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots to lift fifth-seeded Villanova past 12th-seeded Winthrop 73-63 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament’s South Region on Friday in Indianapolis.
Justin Moore added 15 points, Jermaine Samuels chipped in with 11 while Caleb Daniels had 10 for the Wildcats (17-6), who will face 13th-seeded North Texas in the second round Sunday.
Villanova advanced to the Round of 32 for the seventh consecutive tournament.
It’s quite an accomplishment for this year’s group, which is playing the rest of the season without Collin Gillespie. The co-Big East Player of the Year sustained a torn medial collateral ligament, and the Wildcats lost two straight heading into the NCAA Tournament.
D.J. Burns Jr. led Winthrop with 12 points while Chandler Vaudrin added nine points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Adonis Arms had 10 points.
The Eagles lost for just the second time all season, finishing 23-2.
Villanova jumped out to a quick 16-6 lead when Cole Swider hit a 3-pointer with 13:44 left in the first half.
The Eagles soon ripped off a 10-0 run and took a 22-21 lead with 5:54 remaining following a basket by Burns.
Robinson-Earl hit a tough layup with 3:04 to go for a 28-26 Wildcats advantage.
Villanova held a slim 34-33 lead at halftime thanks in large part to 10 points from Moore.
Burns kept the Eagles close with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Bryan Antoine hit just his third 3-pointer of the season for a 40-34 Villanova lead less than three minutes into the second half.
On Winthrop’s next possession, Arms was whistled for an offensive foul as he crashed into Daniels.
Antoine stayed hot and soon made another trey for a 43-34 advantage with 16:23 remaining.
Villanova moved ahead 48-42 with 12:27 to go after a three-point play by Robinson-Earl.
Chase Claxton responded with a three-point play as Winthrop sliced the deficit in half.
Burns picked up his fourth foul with 9:02 remaining and the Eagles trailing 53-47.
When Samuels scored in the lane with 7:57 left, the Wildcats extended their lead to 58-47.
Burns fouled out with 4:37 remaining and Robinson-Earl made 1 of 2 free throws for a 61-52 lead.
–Field Level Media