Sports Journalism Blog

By Alex Burr | @alexburr4

Sports Capital Journalism Program

INDIANAPOLIS – Villanova’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl capped off his night with a dunk at one end with and a block at the other. Robinson-Earl finished with 22 points, 11 points, six assists, three blocks and a steal as the No. 5-seeded Wildcats defeated the Winthrop Eagles 73-63 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

Villanova coach Jay Wright extolled the performance of Robinson-Earl, having an impact on all facets of the offensive game. “Not just scoring, but he had six assists,” Wright said. “He really allowed the offense to run.”

Villanova (17-6) advanced to a second round game against North Texas. Justin Moore scored 15 points and had three blocks. Winthrop (23-2) was led by D.J. Burns Jr., who scored nine of his 12 points in the first half.

After a close start to the second half, Villanova slowly started to pull away. With 9:46 left in the second half, the Eagles had whittled the lead down to 4, at 51-47, but Burns picked up two fouls within the next 44 seconds that sent the Wildcats on a 7-0 run to increase the Villanova lead to 58-47. Winthrop spent the rest of the game trying to dig into the lead, but the closest they could get was eight points several times.

Wright acknowledged the performance for Burns, and why getting him fouled out was a key to the game. “Burns is a problem, he’s a really talented player,” Wright said. “We didn’t do the best job stopping him, but Jeremiah went at him and got him in foul trouble was probably the best way to stop him.”

The Eagles only were able to shoot 8 for 29 in the second half, or 27.6%, with Chandler Vaudrin being held to 0 for 5 from the floor, giving him a final stat line of nine points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, which came with five turnovers.

Wright knew Winthrop had a good offense coming into the game and knew shutting down the Eagles potent attack was the key to the game. “I was proud of our guys, really good defensive effort,” Wright said after the game. “(Winthrop) is an outstanding offensive team, they play with great pace, they shoot it well.”