Donte DiVincenzo’s Moxie Goes Down in Villanova, NCAA History: ‘He’s a Killer’

Donte DiVincenzo’s Moxie Goes Down in Villanova, NCAA History: ‘He’s a Killer’

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO — Ten seconds before the end of the 2017-18 season, a member of the most unselfish team in college basketball committed a rare act of greed.

As Villanova’s Collin Gillespie prepared to receive an inbounds pass and dribble out the clock in Monday’s 79-62 victory over Michigan in the NCAA title game, teammate Donte DiVincenzo stepped in his path.

“I got this!” DiVincenzo said as he caught the pass and began trotting up the court. “I got it!”

Moments later, as the final horn sounded at the Alamodome, DiVincenzo launched the ball toward the rafters and pumped his fists. Confetti danced in the air as his teammates engulfed him just past mid-court—a moment DiVincenzo will cherish forever.

“I wanted to be the one,” DiVincenzo chuckled about an hour later, “to throw the ball up in the air at the end.”

DiVincenzo certainly earned the celebratory heave. The Wildcats sixth man didn’t start Monday’s game. But, boy, did he finish.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

In one of the top performances in NCAA championship history, DiVincenzo scored 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting to spark Villanova to its second national title in three years. The redshirt sophomore connected on five of his seven attempts from beyond the arc and also tallied three assists and two blocks—a stat line that earned him Most Outstanding Player honors at the Final Four.

DiVincenzo’s 31 points were the most ever by a non-starter in a national championship game, and they were the most by any player since 1989.

“It’s surreal,” DiVincenzo’s mother, Kathie, said from her first-row seat. Her voice cracked as she wiped away tears. “I’m just so proud of him. I can’t wait to hug him.”

Kathie waved to her son as he stood with his teammates on a makeshift awards stage at center court. Already sporting a championship T-shirt and hat, Donte fought back tears, too, as he reflected silently on the journey that led him to this moment.

Two years earlier, DiVincenzo’s inaugural season at Villanova had been cut short after just eight games because of a broken bone in his foot. Even though he was granted a medical redshirt, the situation was maddening for DiVincenzo, who wore a suit and watched from Villanova’s bench as Kris Jenkins’ swished three-pointer at the buzzer beat North Carolina in the 2016 NCAA title game.

Amid the on-court celebration that night in Houston, Wildcats guard Jalen Brunson—then only a freshman—wrapped his arm around his best friend and roommate.

“We need to get back,” Brunson told DiVincenzo. “We need to get back and share (a moment like) this together.”

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