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Bey leads the way as Villanova takes down Penn 80-69

Win #1 in the new light blues.

NCAA Basketball: Pennsylvania at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Villanova Wildcats held on in their second straight Big 5 contest at the Finneran Pavilion to take down the Penn Quakers 80-69.

Sophomore Saddiq Bey led the way with a career high 27 points, six rebounds, and two assists in 33 minutes. Freshman Justin Moore also added 17 points on 7-13 shooting.

Villanova shot 40% from three on the night, but only on 10 attempts (4-10). The game plan for the Quakers going into the night was to limit three’s, and Jay Wright’s game plan was ready to combat that, “In years past when we beat them, we didn’t get three’s. They are very committed to their style of play. A lot of people are, but they don’t execute. They [Penn] execute it really well.”

On the other side of the ball, Penn shot 7-19 (36.8%) from three, but didn’t make enough plays down the stretch to get the win.

Saddiq Bey was the go to guy for Villanova in the early going, scoring their first six points including going a quick 4-4 from the foul line. That helped the Wildcats get out to a quick 6-3 lead but the Quakers, especially senior guard Ryan Betley, started to make their presence felt.

Penn responded to gain a 17-13 advantage led by Betley scoring a quick seven points of his own.

Betley finished with 13 points on 6-15 shooting and added four assists and three rebounds.

The teams played the rest of the first half evenly and at the under four timeout they were even at 30. At that point, Betley had nine points and senior forward AJ Brodeur had 12, accounting for 21 of the Quakers 30 points. For the Wildcats, Collin Gillespie picked up his third foul forcing him to the bench and Bey totaled exactly half of their 30 points.

Brodeur and freshman guard Jordan Dingle led the way for the Quakers with 18 points each. Brodeur shot 8-13 while grabbing 14 rebounds, totaling six assists, and blocking three shots.

Villanova finished the last 2:55 of the first half on a 6-0 run, giving them a 36-30 advantage at halftime.

Bey’s 16 points paced the Wildcats, while Brodeur led the way for the Quakers with 12 points.

Freshman Justin Moore started the second half in place of Gillespie, who had three fouls at that point.

Even while dealing with foul trouble, Gillespie was able to finish with 11 points, six assists, and two steals.

Bey continued his stellar play at the beginning of the second half. He started the half with a layup and the foul, converted the free throw, made a layup, and drove in from behind the arc to finish with a dunk and notch a career high 23 points with over 17 minutes left still to play.

Bey gave credit for his big night to the coaching staff and game plan, “That’s all a testament to our coaching staff. Coach got on us about just trying to get downhill. Even when it seems like we’re open... just going downhill, trying to post up and go to the basket... and luckily we converted on that.”

The dunk grew Villanova’s lead to 43-33, but Penn wasn’t going away yet. Brodeur and Betley helped close the gap, and a dunk by senior Devon Goodman shrunk the Wildcat’s lead to just 48-44.

The teams traded baskets from there, with Villanova unable to piece together the necessary stops and baskets to pull the game out of reach. By the under four timeout, Villanova held a 68-64 lead. With five minutes left in the half Bey was called for his fourth foul after bumping the guy with the ball while running back on defense and Wright elected to sit him until there was 3:41 left.

The Wildcat’s were finally able to string together a couple stops and scores and two free throws by Gillespie pushed the Villanova lead to 75-66 with 1:17 left.

Villanova improves to 6-2 on the season and is back in action on Saturday at 3:00 P.M. at St. Joe’s.