Villa came out for its first game in the 2014 NCAA tournament with the type of ragged offense that promised to make its contest against 15th-seeded Wisconsin-Milwaukee a far more dramatic event that the Wildcats would like.

But the No. 2 seed Wildcats showed a better shooting eye Thursday night in the second half - at least from inside the three-point line - and won going away, 73-53, over the Panthers in the NCAA East Regional at First Niagara Center.

Villanova (29-4) earned a third-round matchup against former Big East rival Connecticut, which outlasted St. Joseph's, 89-81, in overtime in the first game of the night doubleheader.

The Wildcats shot 62.1 percent from the field in the second half, including 77.8 percent on two-pointers. They were 4 of 23 (17.4 percent) from three-point range after missing their first 16 attempts of the game from deep.

Darrun Hilliard scored 16 points to lead five Wildcats in double figures. JayVaughn Pinkston added 13 and James Bell chipped in with 12. Freshman Kris Jenkins, who deposited the Cats' first made three with 11 minutes, 59 seconds to play, finished with three three-pointers and 11 points.

The Panthers (21-14), winners of the Horizon League tournament, got to as close as four, 37-33, with just over 13 minutes left in the second half and still were within striking distance at nine, 55-46, with seven minutes to play before the Wildcats pulled away.

Villanova put the game away with a 9-0 run that lengthened a 10-point lead to 19, 68-49, when Jenkins connected on a three-point basket with just over three minutes to play.

Austin Arians led Milwaukee with 17 points. Jordan Aaron, the Panthers' top scorer during the regular season, shot just 1 of 15 and scored six points.

The Wildcats hit just three of their first 20 shots from the field and trailed by 13-10 with seven minutes to play and by 23-18 after Matt Tiby muscled up a shot with 4:04 to play.

But Villanova held the Panthers scoreless from that point and went on a 9-0 run to grab a 27-23 halftime lead. After its terrible start, 'Nova knocked down seven of its last 13 attempts with the help of easy buckets following Milwaukee turnovers.

However, the Wildcats missed all 12 of their three-point attempts, with Bell missing six as his postseason shooting slump continued. The senior leader of the team failed to connect on all five of his deep shots in Villanova's only Big East tournament game, a loss to Seton Hall.

Hilliard led the Cats at the break with 11 points. Arians scored nine points to pace the Panthers, but Aaron misfired on all seven of his field-goal tries - three from deep.

Pinkston scored Villanova's first five points of the second half to make it a nine-point game, the Wildcats' largest margin to that point. After two free throws by Daniel Ochefu restored the nine-point lead, the Wildcats managed just three points in the next five minutes and the Panthers narrowed the gap to 37-33 on Arians' jumper with 13:14 remaining.

But Jenkins scored Villanova's next five points to spark a 9-1 run that extended the lead to 46-34 on Josh Hart's layup with 10:06 remaining.