March 26 (UPI) -- The Villanova Wildcats are headed back to the Final Four after beating Texas Tech 71-59 Sunday in the East Region finale at TD Garden in Boston.
Wildcats coach Jay Wright and his top-seeded crew advanced to their second Final Four three years with the victory. The last time the Wildcats got this far, they won the National Championship, beating North Carolina.
Villanova went down 9-1 to start the game, but the Wildcats wouldn't struggle much from that point. Sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo gave Villanova their first lead with about 12 minutes to go in the opening frame when he hit a 3-pointer, making the score 15-13.
The Wildcats built their lead to 27-19 in the first frame, while the Red Raiders went without a score for a stretch of 4:30. Villanova pushed the lead to 36-32 at halftime.
In the second half, the Wildcats pushed the lead up to 15 points without the help of the 3-point shot. Villanova shot just 16.7 percent from downtown, but made up with the poor shooting with solid work inside the paint and efficient shooting at the free throw line.
Jalen Brunson scored a game-high 15 points and had six rebounds and four assists for the Wildcats. Senior guard Keenan Evans led the Red Raiders with 12 points.
"They are a great defensive team...one of the best defensive teams in the country and one of the best teams we have played against," Brunson told reporters after the game. "They did a really good job of sticking to the game plan, playing team defense. For us, if shots aren't falling for us, we try to make sure that's not affecting us, that we are getting stops on the defensive end. And still having confidence in ourselves that we can take shots on the offensive end."
"Everyone has confidence in each other. I specifically remember I was missing a lot of shots and teammates were looking me in the eye in the huddle and saying 'Jalen, keep shooting the ball. Don't worry about it. Don't worry about it.' And that's just the confidence they have in me and we have in each other."
Villanova battles Kansas at 8:49 p.m. Saturday in a Final Four matchup at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.