UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 18 points and 10 rebounds as No. 3 Villanova overcame a nine-point second-half deficit to beat Boston College 76-67 on Wednesday night in the first round of the Empire Classic
Collin Gillespie added 15 points and Justin Moore and Caleb Daniels each had 14 for the Wildcats, who will play Arizona State in the tournament championship game Thursday.
Jay Heath scored 16 points and Makai Ashton-Langford added 15 for Boston College.
The teams were tied at 34 going into halftime and the underdog Eagles grabbed the momentum early in the second half.
A 3-pointer from Quinnipiac transfer Rich Kelly capped an 8-0 run that gave BC a 49-41 lead, and a 3 by Ashton-Langford extended that to 57-48 with 13 minutes left.
But the Wildcats responded by going on an 11-1 run.
A jumper by Gillespie put them back on top 59-58 and Villanova took the lead for good at 63-61 on a hook shot by Moore with just over six minutes left.
Villanova outscored Boston College 6-1 over the final three minutes to seal it.
The Empire Classic was moved from its traditional home in New York to become part of an 11-day event dubbed “Bubbleville,” being played inside the Mohegan Sun resort casino in Connecticut.
Each program is given its own floor in the resort’s hotel tower and the teams are using back-of-house passageways to avoid the gaming floor and other guests.
Villanova: The Wildcats showed a bit of the rust that coach Jay Wright was worried about going into the game. They were among the teams forced to take a 14-day hiatus from workouts during the preseason after several members of the program tested positive in September for the novel coronavirus. A combination of illness and injury also had Wright running early practices with only eight players.
Boston College: There were relatively low expectations for BC coming into this season, but the Eagles opened some eyes. They were picked to finish 14th in the ACC after losing four of their top six scorers from a 13-19 team.
Villanova will face No. 18 Arizona State in Thursday’s championship game. The Sun Devils beat Rhode Island 94-88 earlier Wednesday.
Boston College will face Rhode Island in Thursday’s consolation game.
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