When the buzzer sounded on No. 6 seed Villanova's opening round victory in the NCAA Tournament against No. 11 Saint Mary's, senior point guard and Baltimore native Phil Booth added yet another record to his historic career.
Booth had won his 13th straight game in the NCAA Tournament, tying a 26-year-old record set by four Duke players in 1993. Grant Hill, Thomas Hill, Bobby Hurley and Antonio Lang set the mark.
The win was also Booth's 147th game in a Villanova jersey, breaking a program record held by Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins.
All the while, Booth was totally oblivious.
"It's crazy. ... Coming into it I didn't even know I was in the ballpark for the stat," Booth said on
Glenn Clark Radio
March 29. "It was an honor just to be mentioned with those names."
Villanova's season ended two days later when the Wildcats were blown out by Purdue in the second round, ending the pursuit of a second straight national title and third in four years. Still, Booth's five years in Philadelphia were more than he could have ever imagined when he signed with the Wildcats in 2013.
"Coming into college I never thought about winning a national championship ... or records or anything, but what I have accomplished throughout my career, I never thought of that coming in," said Booth, who became the ninth player in school history to register 1,500 points and 300 assists in his career. "It was just the best fit, a great run, a great experience and a lot of great memories that came with it."
Booth said he chose the "family culture" at Villanova rather than local schools like Maryland and Georgetown even though at the time some questioned whether head coach Jay Wright could get over the hump. With Booth's arrival, the Wildcats did just that, winning two national titles, four Big East tournament titles and four regular-season titles in Booth's five-year career.
In Villanova's NCAA championship season in 2016, when Booth was a sophomore, he came off the bench to score 20 points. The Wildcats won on a buzzer beater by Jenkins.
"We didn't have anybody on our team that felt like they needed to carry the team," Booth said. "We felt like whoever was open could shoot it and make shots and we had a lot of guys that could make different plays, so that game it happened to be me."
The following year, Booth missed nearly the entire 2016-17 season and was granted a medical redshirt. He returned in 2017-18 to help Villanova win its second national title in three seasons.
Booth's high school career at Mount Saint Joseph was equally distinguished. He earned two All-Metro first-team selections by
The Baltimore Sun and was named All-Metro Player of the Year as a senior, leading the Gaels to MIAA A Conference and Baltimore Catholic League titles.
He has been one of several high-profile Gaels to go on to have successful college careers in recent years. Along with Atlanta Hawks guard Jaylen Adams, Booth helped lead Mount Saint Joseph to a 34-5 record in 2013-14 under legendary head coach Pat Clatchey. Maryland sophomore guard Darryl Morsell was a freshman in the program at the time, and Terps star freshman forward Jalen Smith would come in a year later.
Booth said he keeps in touch with Adams, and he watched Morsell and Smith play in the NCAA tournament.
"So much pride. It's just good to see Mount Saint Joe guys coming out playing really good," Booth said of his alma mater's recent run of success, crediting Clatchey for preparing players for life after high school.
"Coach [Clatchey] was very demanding of us. He was honest all the time, especially when people thought we were the best. Senior year after we committed, he was the most on you then," he said. "I think that really helped me when I got to Villanova. I was used to being pushed ... and it came from him. He knows how to push guys in the right way."
Now Booth turns his attention to trying to make an NBA roster. At 23, he's much older than a lot of NBA prospects, but that isn't discouraging him from living out his dream.
"It doesn't really stop me or slow me down for doing anything," he said. "It's the way the game works. Just giving it all I got and doing whatever I need to do and [being] willing to do it. ... Nothing is given to you, especially at that level, so you had to work for it and see where you end up and make the most of your opportunity."
For more from Booth, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox