Donte DiVincenzo scores record 31 points off bench, wins MOP

SAN ANTONIO -- As soon as his 3-pointer went through the net to push Villanova's lead to 18 points with less than eight minutes left in the game, Donte DiVincenzo turned and winked at the crowd -- and at former Wildcats star Josh Hart, in particular.

Later, as the clock wound down for Villanova's second national title in three years, DiVincenzo looked over to Hart and said, "Another one."

"Me and him competed every day for the last two years, and I knew he was proud," DiVincenzo said.

DiVincenzo, a sophomore guard from Delaware, came off the bench to score 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting in Villanova's 79-62 win over Michigan and was named most outstanding player at the Final Four. His 31 points marked the highest scoring total off the bench in a national title game.

"Honestly, it was a credit to these guys up here," DiVincenzo said at the postgame news conference, alongside Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. "[The Wolverines] did a great job of making it difficult for Jalen and Mikal, and they were just making the right play. They were trying to be aggressive and they were finding me. And Omari [Spellman] was setting great screens and getting me open."

Villanova struggled offensively early, as Michigan jumped out to a seven-point lead. Brunson scored the first four points for Villanova but couldn't get anything going after that.

DiVincenzo consistently came to the rescue and kept the Wildcats in the game, scoring 18 first-half points.

"When you're knocking down shots like that and you're feeling it offensively, it just brings a different type of energy," he said.

Starting the second half on the bench, DiVincenzo was subbed in after just 52 seconds. He picked up where he left off in the first half, scoring 11 straight Villanova points midway through the second half.

"When he came off and hit those 3s, we could not answer," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "I wish we would have maybe gone out and doubled him or something. ... But he still made some really long shots that I don't think there's a defense for."

DiVincenzo was 5-of-7 from the 3-point line.

"Even if we had played our best," Beilein added, "it would have been very difficult to win that game with what DiVincenzo did. It was an incredible performance. Sometimes those individual performances just beat you, and you just say, 'OK, we played you the best we could, and tonight, you were better than us.'"

Monday night marked the second time a sixth man came up big against the Wolverines in a national title game. Louisville's Luke Hancock earned Final Four most outstanding player honors in 2013, when he scored 22 points in a title game victory over Michigan.

DiVincenzo's back-to-back 3-pointers with 8:50 and 7:58 left ended Michigan's hopes for a comeback. The second one was the highlight, as he pulled up in transition for a contested shot from about 23 feet.

"I've seen him take those shots in practice all the time," Villanova freshman Collin Gillespie said. "I've seen him take that shot so many times. We have full confidence in him to take that shot, and when he got hot, we kept giving him the ball."

DiVincenzo has been Villanova's sixth man for most of the regular season, but he averaged 13.0 points coming off the bench. He took his game to a new level in the NCAA tournament, hitting double figures on four occasions -- including an 18-point outing (on 5-for-11 shooting beyond the arc) against Alabama in the second round.

With Bridges probably heading to the NBA and Brunson and potentially Spellman following him, DiVincenzo could become the go-to guy on next season's Villanova team.

If he can crack the starting lineup, that is.

"Hopefully," DiVincenzo said. "Might have to talk to Coach about that."

ESPN's Myron Medcalf contributed to this report.