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No. 17 Villanova stumbles to 3rd straight loss, falls to Xavier

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No. 17 Villanova stumbles to 3rd straight loss, falls to Xavier

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CINCINNATI — Xavier players ran to the student section to slap hands after their biggest win of the season. A couple of weeks ago, nobody could have anticipated them knocking off No. 17 Villanova by double digits.

Those low expectations made it all the sweeter.

Naji Marshall scored 17 points and Xavier used a big surge in the second half to rally past Villanova 66-54 Sunday, leaving the Wildcats with three straight losses in Big East play for the first time since the conference was reconfigured.

It was only Xavier's second win against the Wildcats in the Big East.

"I've never beaten `Nova in my career," junior point guard Quentin Goodin said. "Having all the doubters against us, I feel we proved a point today."

The Musketeers (15-13, 7-8) won their fourth straight — matching their season high — and ended their run of lopsided losses against the Wildcats. Villanova (20-8, 11-4) had won five in a row against the Musketeers, including an 85-75 victory on Jan. 18.

That loss started a six-game Xavier losing streak that dropped the defending regular season champions to last in the Big East. Now they're on their way back up.

"We're a heck of a lot better than we were then — a lot," coach Travis Steele said. "Dramatically."

It showed in the big moments.

Marshall had seven points during a 17-0 run that gave Xavier its first lead midway through the second half. Marshall has been the catalyst during Xavier's winning streak, averaging 20.5 points.

"We all need to be on one bus, all together on this," Marshall said. "It's not about individual play."

Villanova struggled to hit shots during back-to-back road losses at St. John's and Georgetown, and the poor shooting carried over. The Wildcats missed 11 consecutive shots during Xavier's decisive run and were only 4 of 18 from beyond the arc in the second half, when they went more than 9 minutes without scoring.

"It seemed like a long time," coach Jay Wright said. "I think we're just not executing the way we want to, not getting any easy baskets off our defense, so it makes every shot monumental."

Phil Booth had 12 points in the first half, when the Wildcats led by as many as nine points. Their 30-27 halftime lead ended a streak of three straight halves allowing at least 40 points. Booth made only one of his eight shots in the second half and finished with 14 points.

Marshall hit a floater and a 3-pointer as Xavier got its first lead, 49-44, midway through the second half and started its decisive run.

Poll implications 
The Wildcats will plummet after their 85-73 loss at Georgetown on Wednesday — the most points they'd allowed this season — and the 12-point loss at Xavier. They've been ranked for six straight weeks.

Big picture 
Villanova: The loss to Xavier is telling. The Wildcats have won 11 of 13 since both have been in the Big East — the conference was reconfigured for the 2013-14 season. Their only other loss to Xavier during that span was 90-83 at the Cintas Center on Feb. 24, 2016, when Villanova was ranked No. 1.

Xavier: The winning streak has pulled the Musketeers out of the Big East basement and moved the defending regular season champions up to a tie for fourth place.

Old times 
Both teams wore throwback jerseys reminiscent of their 1980s uniforms.

No points for 'Nova 
Villanova's 54 points were its fewest since a 73-46 loss to Michigan the third game of the season. In the last two games, the Wildcats have shot 34 percent from the field and 24.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Paschall better 
Eric Paschall led the Wildcats with 17 points. In his two previous games, he was only 6 of 22 from the field.

Nothing free
Villanova shot only four free throws and made them all. Xavier was 10 of 18 from the line.

Up next
Villanova hosts Marquette on Wednesday. The Wildcats lost at Marquette 66-65 last Sunday.

Xavier plays at St. John's on Thursday. The Musketeers close the season by hosting St. John's on March 9.

No. 20 Villanova holds off Delaware

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No. 20 Villanova holds off Delaware

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NEWARK, N.J. — Playing with a young team, Villanova coach Jay Wright has discovered that even winning can be a learning experience for the No. 20 Wildcats.

The days of Phil Booth and Eric Paschall stepping up in crunch time for the Wildcats ended when their college careers concluded last season.

The new kids have to step up and, fortunately, a lot of guys are carrying the load.

Jermaine Samuels scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half and Villanova won its season-high fourth straight game by getting double-digit performances by five players to hold off Delaware 78-70 on Saturday in the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center.

"It does boost their morale," Wright said of sharing the scoring load. "Guys like to score. That's one of the things we like to teach a young team -- don't evaluate yourselves on whether you score. So when five guys score they're all happy. Guys like to score. It's a normal human characteristic. They're feeling good right now. "

Justin Moore came off the bench to score 16, Saddiq Bey had 13, Cole Swider 12 and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 10 as the Wildcats (8-2) beat the Blue Hens (9-2) for the 15th straight time.

Nate Darling scored 29 points for Delaware, which has lost two straight after setting a school record by starting the season with nine consecutive wins for coach Martin Ingelsby. Kevin Anderson added 14 points, while Justyn Mutts had eight points and 11 rebounds.

"We had epic battles when Mike Brey was there," Wright of the former Delaware coach who is now at Notre Dame. "I always remember those games. They're really intelligent defensively, to Martin's credit."

Darling, who was 10 of 19 from the field, hit a long 3-pointer with 13:15 left the game to get the Blue Hens to within 47-46 and give the Wildcats and Wright some concern.

Moore hit two free throws on the Wildcats' next possession and Collin Gillespie, who had an off game with seven points, hit a 3-pointer to push the advantage to 52-46.

Delaware never got closer than three the rest of the way as the Wildcats opened a 10-point lead in the final minutes.

“I do think we played well on a big stage," Ingelsby said. "We went for it. We were fearless. A testament to Villanova, they made winning plays and their free throws. I thought when we had it to three points we could put a little game pressure on them and get it tied or take the lead, and they made some plays. We could never get it to a one- or two-point game."

Villanova hit 9 of its first 12 shots in building a 22-10 lead less than seven minutes in. The Wildcats made only six baskets the rest of the half, taking a 37-32 lead. Most of their shots were from the outside and they never got to the free-throw line.

Darling and Anderson kept the Blue Hens close, scoring 11 and nine points, respectively.

In the opening game of the doubleheader at the Prudential Center, Mississippi State rallied late to beat Kansas State 67-61.

Big picture

Delaware: The Blue Hens have one of their best teams and this was a shot at upsetting the Wildcats.

Villanova: The Wildcats find ways to win. In this one, they pushed the ball inside in the second half to break it open.

Villanova connection

Ingelsby is the son of former Wildcats standout guard Tom Ingelsby. He played at the school from 1970-73, helping Villanova reach the NCAA title game in 1971. Former Wildcat Dylan Painter transferred to Delaware after last season and he is eligible to play his first game on Monday.

Up next

Delaware: Hosts Delaware State on Monday night.

Villanova: Hosts No. 2 Kansas on Saturday in a Big East-Big Ten matchup.

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.