Villanova’s sixth man was its leading man Monday night.
Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench to pour in a game-high 31 points and lead the Wildcats their second NCAA Tournament championship in three seasons, a workmanlike 79-62 beating of Michigan at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Mikal Bridges added 19 for Villanova, which overcame an early deficit with a late first-half run fueled by DiVincenzo before pulling away in the second half behind more balanced contributions and its underrated defense.
The Wildcats (36-4) became the first team since North Carolina in 2015 to lead the country in scoring and win the national title. The 2009 Tar Heels were the last team to win every tourney game by double digits.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 23 points for the Wolverines (33-8) and Moritz Wagner hit for 16, but they didn’t have enough help. Michigan made just 43.6 percent of its field-goal tries and went a paltry 3 of 23 from the 3-point arc.
After Wagner scored the first bucket of the second half, the Wildcats left no doubt about their superiority. They went on a 14-3 run that Bridges capped with a 3-pointer for a 51-33 advantage with 14:36 remaining.
The lead never dipped below 12 for the game’s remainder as Villanova answered every little Wolverines run with a bucket here, a couple of 3-pointers there. DiVincenzo rattled off nine consecutive points in a 2:39 span, giving the Wildcats a 62-44 cushion with 7:57 left.
Michigan rode Wagner and Abdur-Rahkman to an early lead. The senior duo scored the team’s first 16 points ― Wagner had nine ― as the Wolverines opened a 16-11 cushion at the 12:26 mark of the first half when Abdur-Rahkman drove for a layup.
Meanwhile, Villanova found during the first 12 minutes that it wasn’t going to solve Michigan’s defense as easily as it did Kansas’ on Saturday night. The Wildcats, who made a Final Four-record 18 3-pointers in routing the Jayhawks, missed eight of their first nine long-distance attempts Monday.
However, Villanova found something that worked. DiVincenzo shot the Wildcats into the lead with an all-out assault, hitting 3-pointers while also driving for buckets. He scored 10 consecutive points for the Wildcats in a 2:55 span late in the half, enabling Villanova to end the half on a 23-7 run that gave them a 37-28 halftime advantage.
The Wildcats’ win follows the Eagles’ Super Bowl triumph, making Philadelphia the first city ever to win the Super Bowl championship and the NCAA championship in the same year, according to TBS.