After UCF won the tip, Nova’s Mikal Bridges stole the ball and dunked it home for the first basket of the game. Matt Williams for UCF then went down the court and hit a triple for the Knights to give them a 3-2 lead. Then it was back down the floor a quick dunk from Kris Jenkins to give the Wildcats the lead back. Williams answered right back for UCF with another triple and the ball game was in full swing with the Knights leading 6-4 with 17:45 left to play in the 1st.
Things were still tight with 13:50 on the clock and UCF up 12-9. That’s when the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run over the next 3 minutes and 36 seconds to take a 18-12 lead. Then it was the BJ Taylor show as he scored 3 consecutive baskets to tie the game up at 18 points with 7:54 left in the 1st half.
Then it was Nova’s turn again as they went on a 8-0 run, which was highlighted by triple’s from Nova's Donte DiVicenzo and Jalen Brunson as the Wildcats went up 26-18. After a timeout by UCF’s Johnny Dawkins, the Knights were able to end the run and slow things down with a dunk from Tacko.
However, the bleeding was only stopped momentarily as they got back to back buckets after that to take a 31-20 lead with just 2:07 left to play in the half. Not much charged over the next two minutes as Nova went into the locker room up 35-23.
As the 2nd half got underway, UCF opened with a 7-0 run to make it 35-30 with 18:10 left in the 2nd. It wasn’t until the 16:18 mark that Villanova got their first basket of the 2nd half with Jalen Brunson hitting a jumper to make it 37-30.
They continued to put on the pressure and had jumped back out to a 10-point lead with 11:24 left in the game as Josh Hart hit a triple. This was part of an 12-3 run for Nova that put the Knights behind 49-35 with just 9:14 left to play. However, Nova just couldn’t seem to pull fully away. Hart and UCF’s Tacko Fall traded buckets back to back to make it 53-49 with 7:34 left to play.
Villanova was able to then open up a 20-point lead with 4:40 left to play, but UCF just wouldn’t go away quietly. The Knights heart and tenacity saw them through a 9-0 run to cut it to 11 points with 1:09 left to play as Fall was fouled on a dunk that sent him to the line with a chance to cut the lead to 10. However, he missed the shot and the Wildcats corralled the rebound and Villanova’s Jalen Brunson put in a layup that made it a 13 point game with just 55 seconds left to play which put it out of reach for the determined Knights.
In the end they were able to end they game with just a 10 point deficit, which says a lot about a team that went down by 20 points with just 5 minutes left against the No. 2 team in the country.
It was Villanova hoisting the tournament trophy and Nova’s guard Josh Hart being named tournament MVP of the tournament as the Knights watched across the court. UCF’s Tacko Fall was named to the All-Tournament team, finishing the title game with 20 points and 13 rebounds for his 3rd double-double of the season in just 4 total games.