Big 5 basketball

No. 23 Villanova holds off Saint Joseph's surge for Big 5 win

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No. 23 Villanova holds off Saint Joseph's surge for Big 5 win

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Villanova nearly came undone completing an exhausting stretch of three games in six days against regional rivals.

Instead, the Wildcats found a final burst of energy, and that spoiled a frantic rally by their Main Line neighbors.

Saddiq Bey scored 22 points, Collin Gillespie had 20 and No. 23 Villanova held off a second-half comeback from Saint Joseph's to win 78-66 Saturday.

Villanova (7-2) led 41-25 at halftime, but Saint Joseph's Ryan Daly scored 22 of his 32 points after halftime to get the Hawks within 65-62 with 4:03 left. The Wildcats responded with a 13-4 run to end it.

"This will be good for us," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We've gone through a really tough stretch here, and we really haven't had a chance to practice. Now, we'll get a gap where we can work on some things. And it's always good when you can work on it after a win."

Justin Moore added 14 points and Jermaine Samuels had 12 for Villanova. The Wildcats have won 28 of 29 against Big 5 opponents since 2012.

The Hawks have lost seven straight overall and eight consecutive against Villanova since 2011. Daly was the only Saint Joseph's player with more than eight points.

"I'd much rather not had the 32 points if we ended up winning the game," Daly said. "That was the most important thing, and it didn't happen."

Saint Joseph's got within three on two occasions in the second half, including after Daly's two free throws with 4:08 left.

The Wildcats pulled away thanks to 8-for-8 shooting from the foul line in the last 2:11.

"We had a lot of tough games like this last year that helped us out," Bey said. "These games help you mature."

Big picture

Villanova: After a 2-0 week and winning three straight over Big 5 opponents, Villanova will likely remain in the AP Top 25 somewhere around their current ranking. The team has two games - Saturday against Delaware in Newark, a Dec. 21 home game against Kansas - before starting Big East play on Dec. 30 against Xavier.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks - in their first season under coach Billy Lange - showed some signs of life despite poor shooting.

"There are no such things as moral victories," Lange said. "However, I've kept a notebook that asks if we played hard that I fill out when I get into my car or on the bus after a game. And clearly, we did that today against a national championship program."

Up next

Villanova: The Wildcats are off until next Saturday when they play Delaware in the Never Forget Tribute at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks travel to Temple on Tuesday night.

Justin Moore scores 25 points in No. 22 Villanova's win over La Salle

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USA Today Images/Eric Hartline

Justin Moore scores 25 points in No. 22 Villanova's win over La Salle

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Coach Jay Wright has a talented but inexperienced team at Villanova this year, capable of being dangerous and maddening — sometimes in the same game.

Justin Moore had 25 points off the bench, Saddiq Bey scored 19 and the 22nd-ranked Wildcats survived a sloppy second half to beat La Salle 83-72 on Sunday night.

"We've had different guys who have come up big for us on different nights," Wright said. "It was Justin for us tonight."

Villanova (5-2) went on a 28-6 run midway through the first half to build a 48-28 cushion at halftime. The Explorers closed within 10 twice in the second half thanks to some pesky defense that held the Wildcats without a field goal for over seven minutes. Villanova also committed 12 turnovers in the second half, helping La Salle hang around.

"They made better adjustments than us at halftime," Wright said. "They played hard and we made mistakes that an inexperienced team makes. Juniors who haven't been go-to guys and sophomores who haven't been leaders. But they are learning."

Ed Croswell led La Salle (4-3) with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 10 rebounds. David Beatty had 12 points for the Explorers.

"I'm proud of the way that our guys battled," said La Salle coach Ashley Howard, who was an assistant to Wright from 2013-18, a span that included two national titles. "We battled, but the first half we let the game get away from us with turnovers and poor transition defense."

Moore scored 15 points in the first half to help Villanova build the lead. Bey and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl each had 10 rebounds.

"We have to learn how to come out and play hard for 40 minutes," Moore said. "We had a great first half, but we have to match that intensity in the second half."

Collin Gillespie contributed 14 points for the Wildcats, who have won seven in a row against their Philadelphia Big Five City Series rival and improved to 26-1 since 2012-13 against the four other Division I schools in the unique college basketball association. The only loss in that span for the Wildcats came on Dec. 11, 2018, to Pennsylvania.

Big picture 

La Salle: Coming off a tournament win at the Gulf Coast Showdown last week, the Explorers dropped a game against a Wildcats squad that has bedeviled them for almost 20 years. Still, they have enough talent to make noise in the Atlantic 10.

Villanova: The Wildcats could move up in the AP Top 25 thanks to a chaotic week for teams above them, but their second-half struggles showed they are hardly a complete team.

Up next 

LaSalle: At Philly rival Drexel on Saturday.

Villanova: Hosts Big Five rival Pennsylvania on Wednesday night.

Nate Pierre-Louis' double-double leads Temple over La Salle

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Nate Pierre-Louis' double-double leads Temple over La Salle

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Nate Pierre-Louis posted his third straight double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds as Temple narrowly beat La Salle 70-65 on Saturday.

Quinton Rose had 18 points for Temple (3-0). J.P. Moorman II added seven rebounds and six assists.

The Owls were up 36-22 at the break but La Salle charged back to close to 69-65 after trailing 67-57 with 27 seconds left. Ed Croswell had a layup and Sherif Kenney and Scott Spencer drained treys to cut the deficit to four with :02 remaining.

David Beatty and Kenney had 13 points apiece for the Explorers (1-2). Saul Phiri had 11 points.

Temple matches up against USC on the road on Friday. La Salle matches up against Murray State next Monday.