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Villanova puts away Western Michigan 76-65

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That wasn’t fun, let’s not do it again.

NCAA Basketball: Charleston Classic-Western Michigan vs Villanova Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

An early tip-off meant a slow start for the Villanova Wildcats, but they eventually put the Western Michigan Broncos away 76-65 in the opening round of the Gildan Charleston Classic.

The Broncos’ Thomas Wilder led all scorers with 19 points, while Eric Paschall led the ‘Cats with 17 points. Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson both recorded 14 points of their own.

The first half was marred by a Jeckyll and Hyde performance from the Wildcats defense. They forced 12 turnovers, but struggled to turn those into points and were routinely beaten on slow defensive rotations in the halfcourt or recovering from their press. Thomas Wilder was more than happy to take advantage, grabbing 15 points on 5-6 shooting in the first 20 minutes.

It was a balanced scoring attack in the first half from Villanova with all eight players scoring. Josh Hart and Eric Paschall led the attack with 9 points apiece to take the Wildcats into the locker room with a 44-33 lead.

The second half started with more sloppy play on defense, and the Broncos were able to cut the lead to 8 at the under-12 timeout, and then to 6 at the under-8 timeout.

The Broncos got it to within 3 points with under 3 minutes to go, but Villanova’s offense finally started to convert with some regularity as threes by Paschall and Hart gave the ‘Cats a 12-point cushion.

From there, Villanova hit their free throws and closed out the game.

Villanova will face the winner of Wake Forest and UTEP on Friday at 1:30pm ET on ESPN2.

Shot Chart courtesy of Will Schreefer