PITTSBURGH – Jalen Brunson scored 16 points and No. 1 seed Villanova hit 14 3-pointers in an 87-61 romp over Radford in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night.
The Highlanders (23-13) posed no threat at becoming the first 16 seed to ever knock off a No. 1 in the tournament.
Villanova (31-4) played to near-perfection for the first 30 minutes and everyone played a role. Mikal Bridges had 13 points, Eric Paschall scored 11 and Omari Spellman had 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Wildcats play on Saturday against the winner of Virginia Tech-Alabama.
Radford, out of rural southwest Virginia, must have felt like it was playing against ace pop-a-shot players. Villanova led 69-37 with 11:45 left and was shooting 75 percent (25 of 34) overall and 60 percent (12 of 20) from 3-point range.
The Wildcats turned an NCAA Tournament game into a glorified scrimmage.
Radford’s Christian Bradford opened the game with a 3-pointer and the bench erupted.
The players should hope someone snapped a photo of the scoreboard as a souvenir for the one time the Highlanders led Villanova in this game.
The rest of the half was pure dominance by the Wildcats.
At one point, Brunson had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Radford? Just 10 points on 4 of 20 from the floor.
Villanova started the game shooting 13 of 16. For those who struggle with math, that’s a crisp 81 percent.
Phil Booth, Bridges, Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo all hit 3s in succession to blow open the game. Even when the Wildcats put the ball on the floor, they embarrassed Radford – Collin Gillespie juked guard Donald Hicks about out of his sneakers and the Highlander fell right on his behind.
Hicks led Radford with 13 points.
Radford won a First Four game to advance to Pittsburgh. The Wildcats just won the Big East Tournament in New York. With more shooting performances like this one, they’ll win much, much more in March.
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