BUFFALO, N.Y. — First Duke, then Syracuse. Now second-seeded Villanova has been eliminated.
The Wildcats became the highest seed to fall in the NCAA Tournament so far after Shabazz Napier scored 25 points in leading No. 7 seed Connecticut to a 77-65 victory Saturday night.
Napier had 21 points in the second half and helped put away the game by hitting three consecutive 3-pointers to give the Huskies a 54-45 lead with 6:08 remaining. Napier was limited to 8 minutes in the first half by foul trouble, and he avoided a major scare when he briefly left the game after hurting his left calf with 4:01 left.
Connecticut (28-8) advanced to the East Regional semifinals in New York City, where they will play the winner of today’s game between third-seeded Iowa State and No. 6 seed North Carolina.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie improved to 2-0 in his tournament debut, two years since taking over after Jim Calhoun stepped down because of health issues.
Ryan Arcidiacono scored 18 points for Villanova (29-5) in a matchup of former Big East rivals.
UConn advanced to the round of 16 for the 17th time in its 32nd tournament appearance. And the Huskies did it in their first season as members of the American Athletic Conference.
Lasan Kromah scored 12 points for UConn. DeAndre Daniels, Ryan Boatright and Terrence Samuel each had 11.
Napier, a member of UConn’s 2011 national championship team, continued to lead the Huskies after he scored 24 points in an 89-81 overtime win against Saint Joseph’s on Thursday.
Napier’s injury initially appeared serious after his leg got tangled up with Hilliard while driving to the basket at the other end. Napier limped off and then sat on the bench in frustration, holding a towel to his eyes.
Napier, however, only missed about 40 seconds of action, and showed no sign of being bothered by the injury on the Huskies’ next trip up the floor.
Holding the ball atop the 3-point arc, he blew past a defender while driving into the paint and then flipped in an underhanded reverse high off the backboard.
James Bell scored 14 points, and Darrun Hilliard added 13 for Villanova.