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UConn Basketball Game
UConn Basketball Game
Original photo by Mairead Gillespie
Culture > News

Villanova Wildcats, Get Your Head in the Game!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

With UConn being the basketball capital of the world, the game against Villanova last Tuesday did not disappoint. All eyes were on this matchup because the Huskies haven’t beaten Villanova since 2014. Ultimately, a sold-out XL center and the energetic crowd led to the Wildcats’ demise. It was a wild night for NCAA Top 25 hoops. Now, let me set the scene:

First things first, the comparison of the team leaders was unmatched. 

Villanova’s Star Player → Collin Gillespie (no, we are not related)

Averages 16.6 points per game, 45% field goals & 92.7% free throws

UConn’s Star Player → RJ Cole

Averages 16.2 points per game, 40.9% field goals, 86% free throws

Despite five straight losses to #8 Villanova, #21 UConn was favored to win by two points. However, it was going to come down to all players on the team stepping up and playing the best game of their lives if they wanted to prevail. 

The first half was like any other. UConn started off strong, holding Villanova by at least one basket, but there were a lot of lead changes that made for exciting ooh’s and aah’s from the crowd. Towards the end of the 20 minutes, UConn coach Dan Hurley got frustrated with the refs and proceeded to get thrown out of the game. He quickly picked up two technical fouls after slamming the scoring table and then pumping his arms to rile up the crowd. Regardless, UConn was up at the half and ready for more.

No longer led by a head coach, the Huskies had to adjust and stay motivated for the second half. The entirety of the game was back-and-forth, but the final minutes had my heart beating out of my chest. With 21 seconds left to play, Villanova was leading by 4 points and it looked like the end. All of a sudden, KING Tyler Polley hit a 3 to cut the Wildcat’s lead to just 1 point. It was expected that Villanova would throw the ball in to one of their players and that would be the end. OH, BUT WAIT. RJ Cole (UConn’s star player) stole the ball from Collin Gillespie (Villanova’s star player), resulting in a jump ball in favor of the Huskies. Cole proved to be the best when he broke away for the game-winning layup. Andre Jackson was fouled and sealed the victory with a free throw, ending the game 71-69. 

UConn Basketball Game
Original photo by Mairead Gillespie

Throughout the game, the student section was ELECTRIC. Sitting behind the basket, booing Villanova hours before the game, was an unforgettable experience. Husky Nation brought their A-game with creative signs and posters that definitely psyched out the competition. With a major W, UConn students stormed the court to celebrate. This has been on my UConn bucket list forever and I can say it definitely lived up to the hype. Core memory for sure!!!

The Big East Conference is a force to be reckoned with considering 3 teams are in the AP Poll Top 25, with the others following close behind. While we may not be a football school, we are ready to dominate the Big East tournament in the next few weeks and are going to reign as Natty Champs.

Mairead is a junior nursing major at the University of Connecticut. In her free time, she can be found running, traveling, trying new foods, and going to the beach with friends!