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Second half surge lifts ‘Cats to 76-56 victory over Temple

Villanova is back on top of the Big 5. Also, there will be no more Collin Gillespie slander allowed.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Temple Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

It could’ve easily been a worse start for the Villanova Wildcats, who trailed by four going into the halftime break, although going basket-for-basket with the Temple Owls was less-than-ideal.

The Wildcats have had slower starts and deeper margins to overcome in the past, but any worries on Sunday were quickly eradicated in the second half, as the Wildcats heated up after the break.

Villanova turned the tide with a 20-2 run in the first 5:44 of the second half, using the momentum from that scoring spree to ultimately win, 76-56.

The Owls couldn’t match the Wildcats firepower. Villanova hung 50 second half points on its Big 5 rival.

With the game-changing run, the Wildcats took a 46-32 lead early in the second half. Temple would respond with a 6-0 burst to trim the lead down to single digits. It stayed there, until Villanova’s three-point barrage was just too great for Temple to deal with.

After a lackluster three-point shooting performance in the first half, it felt like Villanova could barely miss in the second. Once they had the hot hand, the Wildcats never cooled off.

The Wildcats drained 13-of-21 three-point attempts in the second half alone (61.9 percent).

Collin Gillespie was a huge catalyst for the Wildcats’ success from deep. The junior point guard drilled a career-high seven three-pointers en route to a game-high 29-point performance.

He had four of his long-range makes in the second half. One of them came during the game-changing stretch, but most came midway through the frame in order to put it out of reach. He enjoyed an efficient performance from beyond the arc, going 7-for-11 throughout the game.

He did set up a few of the three-pointers during the 20-2 run, which was marked by treys from Justin Moore, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and Jermaine Samuels.

Samuels sank a layup to make it 53-42, with just over nine minutes remaining. The lead never shrank to single digits for the rest of the game.

Aside from Gillespie’s big day, Samuels finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Robinson-Earl chipped in 10 points and five boards. Villanova shot a scorching 56.3 percent overall in the second half.

As for Temple, the Owls struggled in the second half to generate offense, only making 9-of-27 shots (33.3 percent). They struggled from long range for the entirety of the game, going 2-for-16 (12.5 percent).

Most of their production came from Quinton Rose, who paced the Owls with 22 points and five rebounds. Nate Pierre-Louis had a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double.

With the victory, the ‘Cats complete the sweep and regain the Big 5 crown, after losing it last year. They are now tied with Temple for the most city titles, with 27 apiece.

Villanova improves to 19-6 overall and finishes its non-conference schedule with an 11-2 record. The Wildcats will refocus on Big East play for the duration of the regular season. They’ll return to action on Wednesday, when they head to the Windy City for a rematch with the DePaul Blue Demons. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET.