Tony Chennault lobbed an early alley-oop to James Bell to start a 13-0 run by the Villanova Wildcats, and they never batted an eye after that. The Wildcats would end up cruising past the West Chester Rams by a final score of 88-50.
The Rams wouldn’t end up scoring until the 15:58 mark, when starting guard Eddie Mitchell sank two free throws. Mitchell ended up leading much of the Rams little offense in the first half. He would have 2 of the total 4 made field goals, as well as adding 6 of his own free throws to the total 14. He would end up on the bench for much of the second half with 4 personal fouls, equating to an 0-4 second half with no further points. WCU shot an atrocious 14.8% from the field in the first half.
Their bad play spread to their defense as well. The Rams committed 14 personal fouls by the halftime buzzer, putting ‘Nova in the bonus in under 7 minutes. The Wildcats entered the double bonus in both halves.
The ‘Cats had their own foul woes as well, with 12 personal fouls in the first half alone. James Bell collected 3 of those fouls early, and sat for much of the first half. He would end up with 4 on the day. Before exiting for the half, Bell led scoring with 9 points.
With Bell sitting, JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard shared the scoring role, finishing the first with 15 and 11 points, respectively. Pinkston also added 5 rebounds and went 2-3 from the three point arc. Pinkston commented on how he and Hilliard were able to easily transition to the leaders on the court.
"Just feeding off each other and feeding off everybody else. Coach put us in a position of being go-to guys, and we have to live up to that"
While the Wildcats looked much improved in the second half, the Rams entered the second half how they left off the first. West Chester committed 4 fouls within the first two minutes, and missed their first 3 shots. In that time, Villanova added 6 points which included a dunk by Daniel Ochefu to start the half, his first basket of the game.
Bell added his fourth personal by fouling RJ Griffin, but Bell would still end up playing 12 minutes in the second, adding 3 assists and a steal.
Ochefu would only finish with 4 points but dominated the glass with 13 rebounds and 4 blocks, adding 4 assists to his line. Coach Jay Wright wants Ochefu to have a more offensive presence.
"He's a great defensive player and really smart. I want him to get more involved offensively. He's a really unselfish player; a real team player. We got to get him to the bottom a little bit more."
Injuries proved plentiful in this preseason. With Dylan Ennis already out, Ryan Arcidiacono didn't play a single minute with bruised ribs. Coach Jay Wright pointed out that it was precautionary, however. Nick McMahon was seen walking around with a boot and is appears to be a high ankle sprain. Adding to the heap, with under 7:00 to go in the first half, Kris Jenkins hit the floor hard and was helped off, unable to put weight on his right foot. He would not re-enter the game and will go for x-rays.
As for team chemistry, Villanova finished with 22 assists compared to West Chester's 5. The Rams were also out rebounded 44-27. While there were mistakes, Coach Wright likes the teams offensive versatility.
"I'm really looking for balance out of this team. We have the ability to shoot 3's, we got the ability to go inside to Daniel and JayVaughn, and I think got the ability to drive. I want to make it clear: we have a lot of work to do. There's a lot of room for improvement."
Villanova will face Lafayette next Friday in the Pavilion for the first game of the regular season. The game starts at 8 pm ET and will air on Fox Sports 2.