Villanova Wildcats

No. 1 Villanova easily beats Jay Wright's former team

ap-villanova-jay-wright.jpg
AP Images

No. 1 Villanova easily beats Jay Wright's former team

BOX SCORE 

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- As Jay Wright recalled, the proposal was made by Ed Manetta.

Essentially, the question was: Would the head coach of the Villanova Wildcats want to return to his Long Island roots by bringing his team to the Nassau Coliseum for a game?

It was an offer he could not pass up.

"I said, `Yeah, it's perfect.' And I said, `Could we play Hofstra?'" Wright said after No. 1 Villanova remained unbeaten with a 95-71 rout of the Pride on Friday night at the Nassau Coliseum.

Wright, now in his 17th season at Villanova, compiled a 122-85 record in seven seasons at Hofstra, and still retains ties to the Long Island school.

"Hofstra worked (its) schedule so we can play this game," said Wright, who repeatedly emphasized that he would not bring Villanova to play Hofstra just to satisfy his ego. "I wouldn't want Villanova people to ever think I would take this game -- Villanova is not my team. It's not my school. I just work for them. It's not my right to take them to a place I love. So it worked out for me and I'm thrilled we were able to do it."

What he saw on the court was also relatively pleasing to him. Mikal Bridges scored 20 points and was one of five players in double figures for Villanova (12-0).

Omari Spellman had 19 points in 31 minutes, Phil Booth finished with 17, Donte DiVincenzo had 16 and Jalen Brunson added 14 points.

The win marked the fifth time this season that Villanova has scored at least 90 points in a game. The Wildcats' season high for points scored is 113 on Nov. 14 against Nicholls State.

"I feel good. I feel like we can get a lot better. I think our guys understand that. This was a good win against a good team," Wright said. "We know we can get better and (the players) know we can get better."

Justin Wright-Foreman had 25 points for the Pride (7-5), who have lost two straight. Rokas Gustys added 11.

"We're disappointed," Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said. "You can't make mistakes against this team."

The Wildcats led 52-31 at halftime after Booth drilled a buzzer-beating 3 from 25 feet.

Villanova made 18 of 35 shots in the half, including 8 of 18 from 3-point range.

"That one possession was way more valuable than any practice," Wright said. "Phil was the third option."

The Wildcats began the second half by knocking down 5 of 8 shots in the first 4:32 and three of the five field goals were 3s.

After Villanova pushed its lead to 69-43 on Bridges' layup, Hofstra scored the next seven points, highlighted by Hunter Sabety's putback dunk of a missed dunk by Wright-Foreman.

Later, Eli Pemberton followed Jalen Ray's missed 3 with a putback jam of his own to cut the deficit to 82-62. From that point, though, Villanova went on a 13-9 run to end the game.

"Hofstra is a tough team to play," Wright said. "Scrappy. Joe has a great way to prepare for you. They prepare. They know all of your cuts. They change up their defenses. You can't look good.

"I think that's why that team, when they get to their league, is going to have a chance to win it."

The Wildcats outscored Hofstra 43-40 in the second half, and finished the game having made 47.9 percent of its shots from the field (34 of 71) and 47.1 percent of its 3s (16 of 34).

"The way they shoot the ball," Wright-Foreman said in response to a question about what stood out about Villanova. "Overall, a great team."

Big Picture
Hofstra: The Pride's early season has been a study in momentum, both positive and negative. Hofstra won its first three games before dropping three straight. The Pride, then, won four in a row before losing their last two.

Villanova: Among the reasons the Wildcats have been a perennial NCAA Tournament team during the Jay Wright Era has been their success in early season, non-conference play. Villanova improved to 61-3 in non-conference play dating to the 2013-14 season.

Notable
Hofstra: The Pride fell to 0-5 all-time against the Wildcats. Friday night's game was the first between the programs since Dec. 27, 1997, when the Pride - then coached by Wright - dropped an 86-74 decision.

Villanova: Despite the game taking place 132 miles northeast of Philadelphia in Uniondale, Villanova was the home team.

Up Next
Hofstra: Begins Colonial Athletic Association play Saturday at William & Mary.

Villanova: Tips off Big East play Wednesday night at DePaul.

Edwards leads Purdue to rout of reigning champ Villanova

usa-phil-booth-eric-paschall.jpg
USA Today Images

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

usa_jermaine_samuels.jpg
USA Today Images

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

BOX SCORE

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.