SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- In its first game since knocking off two top-five teams, Villanova put its opponent on upset alert again but eventually fell to Notre Dame, 65-60, Wednesday at the Joyce Center.
Despite trailing by six points with less than 30 seconds remaining, Villanova had a chance to tie just 15 seconds later, but a three-pointer from Darrun Hilliard was off the mark.
Notre Dame was fueled in the second half by its hot long-range shooting. The Irish connected on six of their nine three-point attempts after the break. Villanova made just three three-pointers all game.
Doing most of that damage for Notre Dame was Cameron Biedscheid. The sharpshooter went 5-for-7 from deep. He ended the game with 18 points.
Poor three-point shooting has been a recipe for disaster this year for Villanova. The Wildcats are undefeated if they make at least six shots from beyond the arc.
Notre Dame was also getting strong production down low, particularly from Jack Cooley. The Irish senior finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds.
In defeat, Mouphtaou Yarou played well again, finishing with a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds.
The loss drops Villanova to 13-8 overall and 4-4 in the Big East. Notre Dame improves to 17-4 with a 5-3 conference record.
Inside the box score
Notre Dame did not commit many mistakes in its victory. The team turned the ball over just six times on Wednesday.
Both teams were lights out from the free throw line. Villanova shot 15 for 17, while Notre Dame was 8 for 11.
Tom Knight finished with 10 points for Notre Dame. He entered Wednesday averaging just 3.2 points per game this season.
After trailing for the first nine minutes of the game, Villanova grabbed its first lead and eventually held on for a 31-29 advantage at the break.
An 8-0 run that pushed the Wildcats ahead, 29-24, gave them their largest lead of the half.
Yarou set the tone for Villanova with nine points. His opponent down on the blocks, Cooley, had 12 first-half points for Notre Dame.
The two teams combined to go 12-for-12 from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes. Villanova made 10 of those attempts.
Another great start
The 31-29 score at the break gave Villanova a lead at halftime for the 15th straight game. A 26-22 deficit against Columbia on Nov. 20 was the last time Villanova trailed at intermission.
On the season, the Wildcats have led in 19 of 21 games after the first half.
Villanova holds a slim 18-17 lead in the all-time series against Notre Dame. Notre Dame has now won the last three meetings.
The teams on the floor weren’t the only ones with a long history. Wednesday was the 26th time Jay Wright and Mike Brey have faced each other.
Before the Big East, the two coaches used to go at it in the America East when Wright was at Hofstra and Brey was at Delaware. Brey had the advantage in the all-time series, 16-10.
Villanova begins the month of February with a home game against Providence on Sunday. The game will be shown locally on ABC.