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Wildcats Rally Past Purdue 89-81
James Bell

Nov. 16, 2012

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Villanova staged a spirited rally from a seven point deficit with exactly one minute remaining in regulation time to force overtime Thursday night against Purdue en route to a stirring 89-81 triumph at Madison Square Garden in a 2K Sports Classic semifinal on Thursday night here.

Sophomore Darrun Hilliard netted a career-high 22 points, including several key shots in the comeback, and Ryan Arcidiacono contributed 18 more for the Wildcats, who are now 3-0.

Villanova now is to face Alabama in the championship game of this event on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2).

"I liked the way we kept fighting against a tough Purdue team," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "That was a tough, physical game between two young teams. It wasn't pretty but it was a good step for our team."

Purdue took an early 6-3 lead before Villanova bounced back with an 8-0 run sparked by a 3-point goal from James Bell and a traditional 3-point play from sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston. The `Cats pushed the advantage to 20-13 before the Boilermakers responded with a 9-0 run of its own to even the score with 6:14 to play in the half.

But Arcidiacono connected on a 3-point goal to give Villanova back the lead, 25-22. Then, when the freshman guard went to the bench after picking up his second foul of the contest with 2:51 to play in the period, the `Cats built on the lead thanks to the work of Pinkston, who closed the first half with nine points.

Villanova connected on 12-of-27 (.444) of its first half field goals and held its own on the boards, collecting one fewer than the Boilermakers (22-21). The `Cats held Purdue to .342 shooting in the first half but were harmed by nine turnovers in the period.

Terone Johnson set the first half scoring pace for Purdue with seven points. Anthony Johnson added four points in the period for the Boilermakers.

The Wildcats were able to extend their advantage to 45-35 early in the period before D.J. Bird led Purdue back. He scored 11 points in the first eight minutes of the period to key a 14-4 stretch that knotted the contest at 49.

The Boilermakers regained the lead for the first time since the early minutes on a free throw by Donnie Hale and a rebound basket by Travis Carroll. The lead grew to 59-53 with 8:30 to play in the period.

Villanova narrowed the deficit to 64-61 with under five minutes to play but twice failed to pull closer. Purdue seemed to be in full control as it pulled away to a 72-64 edge with 1:27 left in regulation.

The Wildcats, though, maintained their focus and forced a series of backcourt turnovers that gave them hope. Free throws from Bell and Arcidiacono cut the gap to 72-66 and then Hilliard drained a huge three to narrow the margin to 73-69 with 53 seconds left. After a pair of Ronnie Johnson free throws pushed the lead back to six, a flagrant foul whistled on Byrd seemed to tip the momentum. Six free throws from Pinkston, Hilliard and Arcidiacono tied the game at 75 with 43 seconds left in the period.

The Boilermakers committed a shot clock violation on their final possession of regulation, setting up a Wildcat attempt for the win. An Arcidiacono shot rolled off the rim and it was ruled the successful tip-in came after the horn. Overtime beckoned.

The star of the extra session was Bell, who drained a pair of 3-point goals after enduring a tough shooting night to that point.

"Coach has a saying - shoot `em up, sleep in the streets," said Bell. "What that means is that you have to have confidence as a shooter, even when they aren't falling. I just kept shooting with confidence and got a couple to fall late."

The Wildcats outscored Purdue 14-6 in extra time. The Boilermakers dropped to 1-2 on the season and meet Oregon State in Friday's consolation game here.

Bell finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for Villanova and Pinkston added 16 points for the winners. Byrd paced Purdue with 16 points.