Spring Grove grad Eli Brooks sees his college career end with a Sweet 16 loss to Villanova

STAFF AND WIRE REPORT
Michigan guard Eli Brooks goes over Villanova guard Collin Gillespie during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, March 24, 2022, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Eli Brooks' college basketball journey came to an end on Thursday in San Antonio, Texas.

The Spring Grove High School graduate had 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, but it wasn't enough to prevent his Michigan Wolverines from suffering a 63-55 loss to Villanova in a Sweet 16 contest.

"We left a lot of points out there," Brooks said. "We got good looks. We just didn't capitalize. I think we got the looks that we wanted. We just didn't make the shots."

Brooks went down hard twice in the second half, but remained in the game each time.

The 6-foot, 1-inch senior finished his final season with a career-high 12.8 points per game average.

Jermaine Samuels scored 22 points for Villanova.  Samuels' 8-of-13 shooting performance, much of it coming on tough drives through Michigan defenders and around Dickinson, carried a Wildcats offense that had long stretches of misfiring on 3-pointers.

The second-seeded Wildcats (28-7) advance to the South Region final to play the winner of Thursday night's matchup between top-seed Arizona (33-3) and No. 5 Houston (31-5).

Villanova twice led by nine in the second half only to see the Wolverines match their 3-point shooting in spurts and make it a contest.

Brooks kept rescuing Michigan with 3-pointers, making 3 of 5. One of Brooks' treys, plus two free throws from Terrance Williams II, had the Wolverines within 54-50 with just over 3 minutes left.

But after Hunter Dickinson, who led the Wolverines with 15 points and 15 rebounds, missed near the basket, Samuels blew by him on the other end for a layup. Collin Gillespie followed it with a 3-pointer — his fourth of the game— from the left wing to make it 59-50 with 1:52 to play.

That was the cushion the Wildcats needed, as Michigan (19-15) closed within six points before Samuels made four three throws over the final 13 seconds to put it away.

Defensively, Villanova refused to yield space under the basket to the 7-foot-1 Dickinson, who came in averaging 24 points in Michigan's two NCAA Tournament wins.

Justin Moore scored 15 points and Gillespie scored 12 for Villanova.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Guard DeVante' Jones started 32 games this season but missed the Wolverines' first-round game against Colorado State because of concussion protocols, and was held out of the second half of the second-round win over Tennessee when his symptoms returned.

Jones scored seven and had five rebounds also left the game briefly in the second half when he fell hard to the floor chasing a loose ball.

Villanova: The Wildcats have been launching 3-pointers all season and there was nothing to deter them when they weren't falling against the Wolverines. The Wildcats were 9 of 30 from long range — their ninth game this season with at least 30 attempts. The most was 50 in a win over Syracuse.