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Villanova beats Ohio State in March Madness to make Sweet 16

PITTSBURGH — Collin Gillespie scored 20 points, Eric Dixon hit a big 3-pointer late on and second-place Villanova repelled seventh-place Ohio State 71-61 in the second round of Sunday’s NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats (28-7) earned their eighth trip to the Sweet 16 under Jay Wright after surviving a second-half push from the Buckeyes (20-12), who reduced a 15-point deficit to two, before Villanova regained his footing.

The Wildcats will continue their quest for a third national title in seven seasons when they meet 11th-ranked Michigan (19-14) in the South Region Semifinals in San Antonio on Thursday night. Malachi Branham scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half. EJ Liddell added 17 in what may be his last game with the Buckeyes before going to the NBA.

Villanova players react after defeating Ohio State in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PPG PAINTS Arena March 20, 2022 in Pittsburgh.
Villanova players react after defeating Ohio State.
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Villanova ran wire to wire but there were some tense moments along the way. A 3-pointer by Ohio State’s Jamari Wheeler drew the Buckeyes within 60-58 with 5:39 to play. The Buckeyes didn’t come any closer.

Samuels hit a layup and Gillespie knocked down a pull-up jumper while Ohio State went cold.

As the Buckeyes tried to catch Gillespie late at the post, he found Dixon open at the 3-point line and the second downed the shot to make it 67-59, with 1:38 left to any Buckeyes chance to finish reaching Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013.

Villanova's Collin Gillespie attempts a shot while Ohio State's Kyle Young defends in the second half of a game during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 20, 2022 in Pittsburgh.
Villanova’s Collin Gillespie attempts a shot while Ohio State’s Kyle Young defends.
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Ohio State missed six of its last seven shots after Wheeler’s 3 got some of the scarlet-clad crowd making the three-hour drive from Columbus to their feet.

The second weekend of the tournament has become a familiar destination for the Wildcats since Wright took over in 2004. After a so-so regular season – by the program’s high standards – Villanova is looking dangerous again.

A week after winning the Big East tournament title, the Wildcats won their first two tournament games in Pittsburgh by double digits, just as they did in 2018 en route to a national title.

The Buckeyes defeated Loyola Chicago in the first round and defeated the Ramblers for 40 minutes while holding the NCAA tournament favorites to just 41 points.

Ohio State's EJ Liddell jumps to shoot the ball in the first half of a game against Villanova during the second round of the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PPG PAINTS Arena March 20, 2022 in Pittsburgh.
Ohio State’s EJ Liddell attracts to the shooting range.
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When Gillespie and Caleb Daniels didn’t do what they wanted on Dribbling Sunday, Dixon got slight looks on the lane. Ohio State’s defensive boast was gone on Friday against the more polished and balanced Wildcats.

Gillespie hit 10 consecutive points on two free throws, two 3-pointers and a steal and layup, while it took Villanova less than eight minutes to establish a double-digit lead en route to a 39-28 halftime lead.

A layup by Jermaine Samuels made it 46-31 early in the second half before Branham and Liddell almost single-handedly brought the Buckeyes back.

Ohio State forward Kyle Young left the team to play at 8:55 after being hit in the head. He didn’t come back. He had missed the Big Ten tournament while on concussion protocol.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/20/villanova-beats-ohio-state-in-march-madness-to-make-sweet-16/ Villanova beats Ohio State in March Madness to make Sweet 16

JOE HERNANDEZ

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