Bench Player Carries Villanova Past Michigan, For 2nd Title In 3 Years

Apr 3, 2018
Originally published on April 3, 2018 12:53 pm

Through the first seven minutes of Monday night's men's college basketball championship in San Antonio, the Michigan Wolverines were feeling good. They'd held Villanova's vaunted, best-in-the-nation offense to 8 points, running their shooters off the 3-point line while pounding the ball inside to German giant Moe Wagner.

Then the Wildcats' Donte DiVincenzo got up off the bench.

The sophomore guard dropped in 18 points on 8-10 shooting before halftime, providing nearly half of Villanova's scoring as they went into the locker room up 37-28. Michigan never got close again and Villanova won its second title in three years, 79-62. The Wildcats won each of their six games by at least 12 points.

DiVincenzo finished with 31 points — a title game record for a bench player — plus five rebounds and two emphatic blocked shots. Junior guard Mikal Bridges added another 19 points.

Wagner finished with 16 points and seven rebounds for the Wolverines, struggling to find his rhythm again after Villanova switched defensive tactics against him in the first half, focusing on keeping the ball out of the junior forward's hands. Senior guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had 23 points.

The win marks the second athletic title in three months for the Philadelphia area, following the Eagles' win over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Just as the city did ahead of that game, the suburban school had light poles on campus greased to keep celebrating fans from doing anything too dangerous.

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