Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Wildcats’ season ends with a thud

Posted by Eric Fisher On March 23

Villanova didn’t have any answers for Carsen Edwards.

The Purdue guard poured in a career-high 42 points as the third-seeded Boilermakers easily dispatched the defending national champions, 87-61, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The sixth-seeded Wildcats (26-10) were almost buried from the start. Purdue quickly jumped out to a 16-8 lead. That lead grew to double digits, although Villanova cut its deficit to 27-20 with 7:46 remaining in the first half on Eric Paschall’s basket and free throw. But the Boilermakers, who advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third straight season, posted a 16-4 advantage the rest of the first half, entering halftime with a 19-point advantage.

The deficit grew much larger for the Wildcats early in the second half. A dunk by 7-foot-3 center Matt Haarms a little more than six minutes into the second half pushed Purdue’s lead to 61-26.

Villanova, which has won two of the past three national championships, isn’t accustomed to trailing by 35 points. Despite some stumbles early this season, the Wildcats found a way to win the Big East regular season and tournament championships. But the Big East isn’t the Big Ten, which can lay a claim to being one of the two best conferences in the nation. The Wildcats didn’t appear to have the personnel to match up with the Boilermakers.

The loss was an unfitting farewell for seniors Eric Paschall and Phil Booth, who have been a major part of the Wildcats’ recent success and have provided valuable leadership for this year’s team. Paschall led Villanova with 19 points, but made just 2 of 9 from 3-point range. Booth added 15 points, but committed an uncharacteristic five turnovers.

Villanova only made 34.5 percent of its shots Saturday. By contrast, Purdue made 53.7 percent of its shots, including 53.3 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers include nine 3-pointers in 16 attempts by Edwards.

The Wildcats didn’t have an answer for Edwards. They didn’t have an answer inside for Haarms. And they didn’t have any answers for the Boilermakers.

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