The Villanova Wildcats took on the Seton Hall Pirates on Sunday and walked away with a 92-76 win, improving to 9-1 in the Big East and 22-1 overall.
Omari Spellman had the first seven points for Villanova, but the ‘Cats were down 11-7 at the under-16 timeout. A quick 8-0 Villanova run gave them a 13-11 lead.
That would be a popular theme throughout the day, as Spellman finished with a double-double. The Ohio native totaled 26 points on 9-12 shooting, including 6-7 from three, 11 rebounds, and three blocks.
“I thought he [Omari] was really intelligent. I think Delgado, because he’s a senior, is one of the most intelligent big men in the country. So, when you go against a young guy who’s excited to play against you, you can take advantage of his inexperience. I thought Omari played like a veteran,” head coach Jay Wright said of his big man’s performance.
Angel Delgado finished with 18 points on 9-15 shooting to go with nine rebounds.
Desi Rodriguez had seven quick points for Seton Hall, but picked up two early fouls. He took a seat for for a few minutes, but Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard trusted his senior and put him back on the court. It came back to bite the Pirates when the Bronx native picked up his third foul when Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree finished an and-one and gave the Wildcats a 30-27 lead.
Rodriguez led Seton Hall with 20 points, seven rounds, and four assists, but played only 29 minutes because of foul trouble. Willard acknowledged the foul trouble probably hurt his team.
“When you don’t have your point guard out there for a good, solid 6 minutes, that really kills your whole rhythm offensively and defensively.”
The two teams traded baskets for the remainder of the first half, and the Wildcats went into the locker room with a 41-37 lead.
Seton Hall went on a 7-0 run to start the second half, putting them in front 44-43. Mikal Bridges ended the run by backing down Myles Powell, but Ismael Sanogo put the Pirates back up 46-45.
Jalen Brunson hit his first three of the day with 15 minutes left in the second half, and gave Villanova a 51-48 lead.
Villanova extended their lead to ten behind Brunson and Spellman, among others. The Pirates hit a couple three’s to keep the lead from getting to far out of reach before Spellman turned it on again.
Brunson finished with 21 points on 6-12 shooting, 2-5 from three, and six assists.
As a team, Villanova shot 12-29 (41.4%) from deep. On the other side, Seton Hall went 7-18 (38.9%) from three.
The red shirt freshman had a block before hitting two free throws and his sixth three of the game to give Villanova their largest lead at 81-69.
The six three’s were not a surprise to Wright, he knew what the big man could do.
“When we recruited him, he was a perimeter player. So this isn’t any surprise to us. He grew after we recruited him and grew into a big, strong rebounder and post player.”
The hot shooting and stifling defense continued, giving Villanova a 92-76 victory.
“Earlier if Omari just needed to defend and rebound, he was ok with it. But now when we need him to step up in a game like this, when we have a great big guy in Delgado and you wanna get him away from the basket, he’s ready to do it.”
Red shirt sophomore Donte DiVincenzo had a well-rounded game, scoring 13 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, and dishing out 7 assists. He’s started the last three games with Phil Booth out, but it’s no different to Wright.
“In my mind, he [Donte] is doing the same thing, to me. He’s always been a starter in my mind. To us, our staff, we always want him in the game. When we get him in there, we just want to leave him in there.”
While Villanova remains at the top of the conference, Seton Hall falls to 17-6 overall and 6-4 in the Big East.