Villanova Wildcats

Collin Gillespie's career game carries No. 14 Villanova past Georgetown

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Collin Gillespie's career game carries No. 14 Villanova past Georgetown

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Collin Gillespie hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 30 points and Eric Paschall had 24 to keep No. 14 Villanova unbeaten in the Big East with a 77-65 victory over Georgetown on Sunday.

The Wildcats (18-4) have won 10 straight games and are 9-0 in the conference for the first time since 2009-10. The Wildcats got rolling late at their off-campus home, the Wells Fargo Center. The Wildcats are 32-3 in the building since 2012-13 -- and their win percentage boosted by six straight wins over the Hoyas in Philadelphia.

James Akinjo led the Hoyas (14-8, 4-5) with 19 points. The Hoyas had averaged 83.2 points on the season yet scored no field goals over a 6-minute stretch late in the game.

Phil Booth — who missed 10 of his first 12 shots — scored on a driving layup, then buried a 3 to snap a tie and give Villanova a 58-53 lead with 5:41 left. Villanova, which was called for four fouls on one possession late in the game, got a Gillespie bucket to stretch the lead and hold off the Hoyas.

The Wildcats were again a two-scorer show. Booth, who was leading Villanova this season with 18.7 points, mostly sat this one out until crunch time. He missed his first six 3-pointers while Paschall had some surprising help from Gillespie.

After Paschal converted a three-point play to give the Wildcats a 46-43 lead, he had combined with Gillespie to score 39 of their points. Gillespie, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, had flashes of scoring bursts this season. He scored a career-high 21 in a loss to Penn and 19 in a loss to Furman. But in a Big East battle, Gillespie was clutch in a win.

He sank two free throws for a three-point lead to cap one of the wilder sequences of the game: Booth was picked clean by Greg Malinowksi and the Hoya guard went for a fast-break layup. But Nova's 6-7 forward Jermaine Samuels hustled back and stuffed Malinowksi on a block that brought the crowd to its feet. The Wildcats snagged the possession and Gillespie converted from the line.

And when the Hoyas again tied the game, Gillespie buried a 3 for the lead.

Big picture

Georgetown: The Hoyas had won two straight games but again had their Big East progress stunted by Villanova. The Wildcats have been a thorn for Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing since the 1980s. The Wildcats upset Ewing and the Hoyas in the 1985 national championship game.

Villanova: The Wildcats are playing for NCAA Tournament seeding and could earn one in the low single digits. Samuels was a key against the Hoyas with 16 rebounds and three blocks.

Brunson's back

Two-time national champion Jalen Brunson, the 2018 AP Player of the Year, returned for a senior day celebration. Brunson played three seasons with the Wildcats and was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks. He received a framed No. 1 jersey and shared a hug before the game with coach Jay Wright. Brunson said he still keeps in touch with many of his teammates. "It was a flashback in about 30 seconds," he said.

Up next

Georgetown plays Wednesday at Providence.

The Wildcats host Creighton on Wednesday.

Edwards leads Purdue to rout of reigning champ Villanova

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Edwards leads Purdue to rout of reigning champ Villanova

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Carsen Edwards had a career night, scoring 42 points as Purdue knocked reigning national champion Villanova out of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night in an 87-61 rout.

Matt Haarms added 18 points and nine rebounds for the third-seeded Boilermakers (25-9), who advanced to their third straight Sweet 16.

Eric Paschall had 19 for Villanova (26-10), which saw its quest for a third national title in the last four seasons end during the tournament's first weekend. Fellow senior Phil Booth scored 15 points, putting him over 1,500 for his career.

Edwards has battled a sore back and had been in a recent shooting slump, making just 7 of 23 shots from the field in Purdue's first-round win over Old Dominion. He found the bottom of the net early and often against `Nova, making 12 of his 21 shots, including nine of 16 from behind the arc.

Purdue shot 54 percent while holding Villanova to just 20 baskets on 58 shots (34 percent).

Purdue jumped out early, building a 13-point lead thanks to Edwards' outside shooting and Haarms' work down low.

The 7-foot-3 Dutchman towered over the shorter Wildcats, who didn't start anyone over 6-8. He had Purdue's first four points on a dunk and a put-back. Edwards hit five of his nine first-half shots, all of which came from three-point range.

Purdue had nine three-point baskets in the first half and a dunk by Haarms put the Boilermakers up 43-24 at intermission.

Another dunk from the Dutchman extended the lead to 35 in the second half. Villanova chipped away but the sixth seeded Big East champions did not have weapons to make it a game.

Defending champion Villanova shows its experience in NCAA Tournament first-round win over Saint Mary's

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Defending champion Villanova shows its experience in NCAA Tournament first-round win over Saint Mary's

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Villanova got off to a slow start in defense of its NCAA championship against a determined, defensive-minded Saint Mary's team that came in confident after a season-defining win.

But the Wildcats, a No. 6 seed in this NCAA Tournament after an up-and-down season, have one thing no team in the field of 64 has: a pair of leaders who have won two national titles.

 NPhil Booth scored 20 points, fellow senior Eric Paschell added 14 and Villanova held off 11th-seeded Saint Mary's 61-57 on Thursday night.

"We're growing, our young guys are growing, but we have two seniors who do everything for us, on and off the court," coach Jay Wright said. "We're just so lucky to have them."

Sophomore Jermaine Sameuls added 12 points for the Wildcats (26-9), who led for almost 33 minutes, but never by more than eight points.

"The tempo was excruciating," Wright said. "We felt going in we were going to have to grind with them."

The Gaels used the same slow pace to upset Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament, and it gave them a chance against Villanova (26-9) in a tense opening-round matchup.

Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts each had 13 points for Saint Mary's (22-12). Ford's basket in the lane after a few nifty moves got the Gaels within six points at 61-55 with 34 seconds left.

After Paschell missed a foul shot on the other end, Fitts cut the deficit to four points with a leaner in the lane. The Gaels had two more chances in the final seconds, but Fitts hit the rim on a 3-point attempt and Villanova freshman Saddiq Bey stole the ball from Ford in the final seconds to seal the win.

"We had a few games this year where we put the press on and were able to get back in the game," said Ford. "And if we get a few of those loose balls, or maybe make a three when we were down four, I think it's a different game."

Saint Mary's led 30-28 at the half, but Booth scored the first five points after intermission during a 12-3 run that put the Wildcats up 40-33. He had 12 points and five of his six assists in the second half.

"We weren't doing that bad, actually," Booth said. "It was more that they were playing very well and we were trying to match how they were bringing it. I think we just had to take it to another level, because they were playing at a high level."

Big picture

Villanova: The defending champions are in the tournament for the 14th time in 15 seasons and improved to 14-1 since 2016.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels are 4-6 in opening-round games in the NCAA Tournament and 5-10 overall. Saint Mary's has advanced to the Sweet 16 once in the modern era when it beat the Wildcats in 2010. There's a reminder of that run in the hallway outside the locker room that the players see as they walk out to practice each day in McKeon Pavilion.

Empty arena

The game tipped to a relatively empty arena, but it wasn't because nobody had bought tickets.

Fans of the Wildcats, many of whom made the 4-hour drive from Philadelphia to Hartford, Connecticut, were lined up along with Gaels fans behind metal detectors as security emptied the arena from the afternoon session.

"You worry about those things, you know?" Wright said. "We have a lot of guys in the NCAA Tournament for the first time thinking, `This is the NCAA Tournament?' There's no one in the stands."

By halftime, the 16,000-seat XL Center was nearing capacity, but some frustrated fans were sill filing in.

From distance

The game was billed as a battle between one of the nation's top 3-point shooting teams in Villanova against some of the nation's best perimeter defenders. In the end, the Wildcats finished 8 of 20 from behind the arc, while Saint Mary's was 8 of 22.

On the boards

The taller Gaels won the rebounding battle 33-29 and 10-5 on the offensive end. The Wildcats didn't have an offensive board until the second half and that led to an 11-4 advantage for Saint Mary's in second-chance points. Wright said this year's team was hurt by the transfer of 6-foot-9 Dylan Painter, but is going to have to find a way against taller opponents.

Up next

Villanova will play No. 3 seed Purdue in the second round Saturday.