The Villanova Wildcats defeated the College of Charleston Cougars 63-47. Josh Hart was once again the star, leading Villanova in both points, 13, and rebounds, 11. His defense was also a big part in holding Charleston to 35% shooting on the day.
Despite only having seven guys play the majority of the game, Coach Jay Wright wasn't worried about depth. "We just played 6 games in 13 days, I mean that's a lot. I thought we held up pretty well. I'm not [worried about depth] knowing that we're going to get Phil Booth back."
Josh Hart, who played 35 minutes tonight, doesn't have a problem with it. "However many minutes I play, I'm [going to] play as best I can, as hard as I can. I'd love to play the whole game if coach would let me." You grow up playing in tournaments, you have games back to back to back. That's the part of basketball that you love.
Eric Paschall got his first start as a Villanova Wildcat due to Kris Jenkins missing a class and made the most of it. He finished with 8 points, 5 boards, and 3 assists. "He's really important. Kris [Jenkins] has played the 2,3,4, and 5 and I think Eric is going to be able to do the same. That kind of guy is really valuable in our program."
Paschall's mindset when on the court is simple, "Just being solid, trying to make the right play every time I come down the court. Just don't force anything, really."
The first eight minutes went quickly, without a single timeout, and the 'Cats jumped out to a quick 12-7 lead. With no Phil Booth for a third consecutive game, redshirt sophomore Mikal Bridges played a large role again. Finishing with 8 points, 5 rebounds, and playing stellar defense once again.
At halftime, the Wildcats were up 35-21 and led by Josh Hart with nine points. The Villanova defense forced eight turnovers and scored nine points off of them. The 'Cats shot 50% from the field in the first half, 13-26, while holding the Cougars to only 36%, 9-25.
The 'Cats continued their success into the second half, leading 43-25 by the under 16 timeout. By the under eight, 'Nova was up 54-34 thanks to forcing the Cougars into turnovers and contesting every shot. The one bright spot for the Cougars was 6'7" forward Jarrell Brantley, who scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Nova's offense was very spread out, as all seven Villanova players with more than five minutes had between 6 and 13 points.
Villanova struggled from the three-point line, shooting only 29%. Kris Jenkins went 2-3, while Josh Hart went 2-4. From the field, the 'Cats shot 21-48, 44%.
The 'Cats forced Charleston into 14 turnovers, led by Donte DiVincenzo's 4 steals. In spite of this, Wright said the defense was "average." He added, "we would have liked more. We can create a lot of offense off of our defense and we didn't do that tonight.
"You saw the Western Michigan game, you saw how these guys came in here tonight, they didn't go away. Somebody's going to get you if you don't bring it every night," Wright said on the challenge of playing with a target on the team's back.
The Wildcats next challenge will be against Penn at the Palestra on Tuesday night. "It [the Big 5] is always exciting. Eric doesn't know a lot about that, Donte doesn't know a lot about that. We're going to have to educate them to the intensity we're going to face. We have to get playing harder."