The Villanova Wildcats were back to their winning ways on Saturday, defeating the Ohio Bobcats 78-54 in South Philly. Three point shooting was the deciding factor in this one as Villanova shot over 45% from deep while holding their opponents to just 15%. If that wasn’t enough, the Wildcats made 18 free throws while Ohio only attempted 10 and made just 5.
Saddiq Bey led the Wildcats with 19 points on a blistering 70% shooting from the floor. He was a red hot 4 of 5 from deep, and also made his lone free throw. Justin Moore had a career high 18 points on Saturday, more than double his point total from his previous two games combined. The freshman guard added 2 rebounds, an assist, and a block to go along with the charge he took early in the first half to set the defensive tone for the Wildcats. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl put up a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) and a team high 4 steals, while Jermaine Samuels also stuffed the stat sheet with 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists (a team high). Collin Gillespie was the 4th Wildcat in double figures, adding 10 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
The Wildcats are off until Thursday when they head to South Carolina for the Myrtle Beach Invitational and an opening round tilt with Middle Tennessee.
The undefeated Ohio Bobcats came to the Wells Fargo Center looking to keep a goose egg in their loss column. They wanted to take advantage of a potentially rattled Villanova team who came off one of their worst losses in ages against the number 18 ranked Ohio State on the road. History doesn’t seem to be kind to the Bobcats though, as they are 11-54 all time against Top-25 teams. This is good news for Villanova as they would be looking to right the ship and get their season back on track before some bigger non-conference opponents and a rough Big East schedule.
Jay Wright opened the game fielding the starting lineup of Gillespie, Moore, Samuels, Robinson-Earl, and Bey, while Ohio elected to start with a smaller lineup of 3 guards (Preston, Vander Plas, and Ogbonda) and 2 forwards (McDay and Dartis). After the opening tip, it didn’t look like this would be an easy day for Nova as Ohio came out strong in their first three possessions and Villanova took a few quick, and not so great, shots. However, back to back threes from Bey and Robinson-Earl put the Wildcats back on track. The Cats did continue to struggle shooting through the first four minutes (only shooting 28.6%), but the first media timeout gave them the time to hopefully regroup and get their offense on track.
After the break, it looked as though Ohio was the one who regrouped better, with a few defensive stops and a bucket. But that was quickly put to rest by a Swider three and a breakaway by Gillespie leading to a foul. Villanova clearly talked about getting out in transition during the last break because after a rebound or steal, Villanova had one or two guys ready to gun it down the wings for a quick score.
Out of the second media timeout, Villanova let Justin Moore go to work by letting him bully Ohio’s smaller guard Jason Preston in the paint. Despite Villanova looking like the stronger team, their shooting woes kept them within three of the Bobcats with just under 9 to go. As the horn buzzed for the under 8 minutes timeout, the Wildcats were shooting just under 28% and were only 50% from the stripe.
Moore used some nice ball handling to put the Cats up 18-17 and the following possession put Nova in the bonus, which they hoped would free them up to drive as they would be praying on fear of foul trouble. Bey fought for a rebound and a put-back-and-one on the next possession that put the struggling Wildcats back on track as they took a 23-17 lead.
Nova was able to get back on track towards the end of the half draining back to back threes and grabbing a steal off a clever double team. With under four to go the lead ballooned to 31-17 as they Wildcats finally looked settled in. After an incredible possession with great ball movement and recovery from the Wildcats, ending in a 3 by Bey, the Wildcats went up 35-19. The end of the half looked strong as Villanova rained threes and went into the locker room up 43-21 off a 27-4 run.
The second half saw more of the same for Villanova, running in transition and draining threes. The wildcats looked like they were more comfortable adlibbing one their initial offense broke down. Through the first 6 minutes, they continued to extend their lead with a Sadiq Bey 3 which put them up 55-28.
Ohio found their rhythm out of the first media timeout, stringing together a few good possessions and closing the gap to 21. Villanova appeared to be moving the ball well, they just could not finish the play off and cash in the points. As their shooting struggles continued, they looked to move the ball inside, giving them moderate success but nothing that would expand their lead.
Down the stretch, the cats were able to maintain their lead. It became a little easier after one of Ohio’s big men (Sylvester Ogbonda) fouled out, leading to an easier time getting inside. Chris Arcidiacono checked in with a little over two minutes to go, causing a stir in a crowd that remembers what his brother did for the program. Cosby-Rountree, who only saw 10 minutes during the game, finally got on the board in garbage time on a nice pick-and-roll assist from Robinson-Earl.
Villanova was able to bounce back from their beatdown against Ohio State by beating down another Ohio school. Although OU isn’t as talented as the number 18 ranked team in the country, they were still undefeated coming into the game and could be a strong mid-major this year. Justin Moore and Sadiq Bey led the Wildcats with 18 and 19 points respectively. The Cats moved the ball well and played solid defense throughout the game, the only worry was their ability to actually finish off the play by scoring points. If their shot consistency evens out over the course of the season, this looks like a team that could make a decent run in the postseason. Overall a good win with some points of improvement Jay Wright will be looking to address in practice to tighten up before conference play starts.