PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) Mikal Bridges scored 18 points and No. 5 Villanova pulled away down the stretch to beat Northern Iowa 64-50 in Friday's Battle 4 Atlantis championship game.
Jalen Brunson added 16 points and was named the tournament's most valuable player for Villanova (6-0). The Wildcats led most of the way then used an 8-0 run in the final 4 minutes to turn away the Panthers.
It marked Villanova's 17th straight win in a November tournament and marked the Wildcats' fifth straight year with a championship, including the 2013 Atlantis title.
Juwan McCloud scored 13 points to lead the Panthers (5-2), who made just 6 of 23 3-pointers and didn't get to the free-throw line.
The Panthers got within 51-45 on Spencer Haldeman's 3 with 5:33 left, but Phil Booth answered with a 3. Then, after Eric Paschall's score, Bridges hit a 3 to push the lead to 14 with 2:03 left.
BIG PICTURE
Northern Iowa: The Panthers finished with two wins in three games in the Bahamas, starting with a 61-58 win against SMU then getting a couple of late baskets to beat North Carolina State 64-60 on Thanksgiving day. They just couldn't complete the three-day run - and now they've faced the past two national champions (they lost to 2017 champion North Carolina in the opener) in the season's opening month.
Villanova: The Wildcats managed to avoid the trouble that befell fellow ranked teams Arizona (No. 2) and Purdue (No. 18) in Atlantis. They used a second-half spurt to pull away from Western Kentucky 66-58 in Round 1, then ran off a bigger one - 23-2 - to erase a double-digit deficit and beat Tennessee 85-76 in the semifinals. And Bridges' leap from last year has built a scary 1-2 punch with Brunson, a preseason Associated Press all-American.
UP NEXT
Northern Iowa: The Panthers host UNLV on Wednesday.
Villanova: The Wildcats host Penn on Wednesday in a Big Five matchup.
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