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Villanova Squeaks Pass A Pesky DePaul Team In Their Opener Of The Big East Tournament 58-57

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Courtesy Of Villanova Athletic Communications

Madison Square Garden—Justin Moore’s clutch 3-pointer with just eight seconds remaining in the second half saved sixth-seeded Villanova from a potential upset, edging out the 24-point underdog DePaul 58-57 in Wednesday night’s nail-biting showdown to secure a spot in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.

The Wildcats (18-14), in dire need of victories to bolster their NCAA Tournament credentials, will now square off against third-seeded and 10th-ranked Marquette on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Jalen Terry’s pull-up jumper handed the Blue Demons (3-29) a narrow 57-55 lead with 1:13 left on the clock, but DePaul failed to extend their advantage. Trailing by two with just 17 seconds remaining, Villanova strategically utilized a timeout to devise a play, resulting in Moore’s pivotal 3-pointer that found nothing but net.

“Thank goodness for Justin Moore,” expressed coach Kyle Neptune.

Moore concluded the game with 10 points, contributing to Villanova’s tally as they struggled from beyond the arc, converting just 11 of their 35 attempts.

“In that moment, my sole focus was on securing the win. Big-time players step up in crucial moments,” Moore reflected.

Despite having a timeout at their disposal, DePaul hurried down the court but couldn’t manage a shot as Terry turned the ball over, marking the end of their season with a disheartening 20-game losing streak.

Terry led the 11th-seeded DePaul with 18 points and an impressive 15 boards.

“I feel like today, we were more cohesive as a team than ever before. There was a certain synergy,” Terry remarked.

Enduring perhaps one of the most challenging seasons in Big East history, DePaul became the first team to finish the regular season with an 0-20 record in conference play. Head coach Tony Stubblefield was relieved of his duties in late January, with assistant Matt Brady stepping in as interim coach, albeit without securing a victory during his tenure.

“I am grateful to our players for exhibiting a 40-minute effort,” Brady expressed.

The Wildcats briefly seized a 52-50 lead following Eric Dixon’s 3-pointer with 4:43 remaining in the second half, only for Elijah Fisher to respond with a sweet layup, knotting the score at 52 apiece with 3:25 left on the clock.

Dixon led the Wildcats with 21 points, including a crucial straight-on 3-pointer to level the scores moments after DePaul’s Da’Sean Nelson had given his team a temporary lead with a three-point play.