The Wildcats opened the game on an 8-0 run before the first official timeout, and continued to build their lead through the first half. Saint Joseph's struggled shooting in the first half, and fell deeper into a slump as the second half progressed, shooting just 15% from the floor at the under-eight-minute timeout.
The "#BenchMob" came into the game before the two-minute mark, getting some good minutes -- and a green-light to shoot -- as the Wildcats rolled to a 74-46 victory. Villanova led for the entire game, with the lead maxing out at 31 points.
"We had a good effort today, we played well," head coach Jay Wright under-stated. "I mean, our defense, I really thought our defense was outstanding, and I know that the numbers don't show it, but they're a very good rebounding team. . .
Josh Hart had a big game for the Wildcats scoring 12 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, but most important may have been Darrun Hilliard, who had a very good game against the Big 5 rivals with 11 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. The offense in general was clicking for the Wildcats in the first half, with 53.3% of their shots from deep landing, and 46.9% dropping through the net in total.
"This guy [Hart], I'm telling you, he could average twenty right now," Wright glowed. "On this team we just don't need someone to do that. He's one of our best defensive players, one of our best rebounders, definitely our best energy guy, he just brings so much to our team. You'll see in years to come there's a lot more there."
Freshman guard Phil Booth also scored 11 for the 'Cats, assisting on two.
In the second half, while the 'Cats connected on 44.8% from the field, and they slowed their long-distance shooting -- taking just eight shots beyond the arc after halftime, opposed to 15 before the intermission (two of those taken by Henry Lowe (0-1) and Pat Farrell (1-1)).
The Hawks aren't an experienced team, and without depth to help cover up some foibles, forward Isaiah Miles fouled out with almost 13 minutes left in the game, taking one of their best shooters off of the court.
"We've basically got a lot of older guys, they've got a lot of younger guys; that's what it came down to," Wright claimed.
"Isaiah Miles was a big part of it, he gets three [fouls] in the first half . . . it would've been a different game. They don't have the depth to get him three fouls early. He's also one of their best perimeter shooters; that was a big impact on the first half."
Just one Saint Joseph's player reached double-digit points, forward DeAndre Bembry, who scored 13 and had four steals, 3 rebounds and one assist.
The Wildcats had 15 assists to 26 made field goals in the game, helping to set up some of their biggest shots. When this team plays its best, it can be one of the most unselfish teams in Jay Wright's history on the Main Line.
"Last year’s team was probably one of the best we’ve had and we’ll see how they do throughout the year," the coach said of his teams' ability to share the ball.
"I think last year it started, the make-up of our team is we've got really skilled players at each position, and when you're four- and five-men like JayVaughn Pinkston and Dan Ochefu - who really didn't have to play that much tonight - but when those guys pass the ball really well, which they do, it really didn't show up in assists but they get double-teamed, they make a great pass and someone else gets the assist. So, when your forwards pass like that, you can have a really-good passing team."
They had what was likely a season-high for turnovers, however, with 15 credited to the team, with both Ochefu and Jenkins recording three each. They were also out-rebounded slightly by the Hawks, 43-41, but neither factor mattered much to the coach.
"In these games, especially, in Big 5 games, we never address the numbers," the Villanova coach stated, indicating that other factors matter more in a tough rivalry game.
What sticks out most through eight games so far, other than the Wildcat's impressive 8-0 record, is the fact that it seems a different player or set of players is leading the team every time out the gate. While Dylan Ennis had his star turn earlier in the week, it was Hart, Hilliard and Booth putting up numbers today. Ochefu, didn't play much because he picked up his fourth foul early in the second half, sending him to the bench -- Darryl Reynolds performed well in his place, allowing Wright to keep his starter on the bench.
"I think that can be our, greatest asset throughout the season, is our depth. I wouldn't say we have one guy who is so great he can carry the team, but we have, I would say, eight guys who can carry the team."