No. 3 Villanova downs No. 18 Arizona State for 2K crown

Sophomore Jeremiah Robinson-Earl scored a career-high 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting to lift No. 3 Villanova past No. 18 Arizona State 83-74 in the championship game of the 2K Empire Classic on Thursday in Uncasville, Conn.

Justin Moore added 16 points and 12 rebounds while Caleb Daniels scored 14 points for the Wildcats (2-0). Collin Gillespie contributed 11 points.

Freshman Josh Christopher led the Sun Devils (1-1) with 28 points while Alonzo Verge Jr. added 22. Marcus Bagley produced 10 points.

Jermaine Samuels drove to the basket, scored and completed a three-point play for a 21-19 Villanova lead with 11:23 remaining in the first half.

Christopher scored 12 of Arizona’s State first 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

The Sun Devils’ Taeshon Cherry threw down a dunk with 8:06 left in the half to tie the game at 24.

Consecutive baskets by Robinson-Earl and Gillespie then gave Villanova a 28-24 advantage.

Robinson-Earl hit a jumper from about 18 feet for a 35-29 lead with 3:53 left, but Remy Martin responded quickly with a basket in the lane to close the Sun Devils within four.

The Wildcats built a 41-32 halftime lead thanks to a late 10-3 run. Robinson-Earl led the way with 13 points in the half, and Villanova took advantage of nine total offensive rebounds.

Arizona State scored the first six points of the second half to close within 41-38 in less than a minute.

Robinson-Earl hit a 3-pointer from the wing to cap an 8-0 run for a 49-38 lead with 16:47 remaining.

Daniels and Robinson-Earl each made a trey and the Wildcats moved ahead 55-43 with 13:08 left.

After the Wildcats moved out to a 61-46 lead, Christopher responded with a deep 3-pointer off the backboard to cut the deficit back to 12.

However, Villanova stiffened defensively, and when Daniels hit a trey, the lead swelled to 66-49 with 8:46 to go.

The Sun Devils added an 11-4 run to trail 70-60 with 4:49 left after a trey by Verge, but Villanova refused to let Arizona State get much closer on its way to the tournament title.