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Cats Hold Back Broncos: 76-65

AP #3, Villanova defeated Western Michigan, 76-65, in the opening game of the Gildan Charleston Classic today ...

Villanova "stiff-armed" an aggressive, hard-nosed Western Michigan team to post a 76-65 win in the opening round of the Gildan Charlston Classic and advance to the winners bracket to face Wake Forest in the semi-finals (Friday, 18 Nov, 1:30 PM, ESPN2).

Eight minutes into the game, Villanova had a 19-10 lead and seemed well on their way to cruising to the type of 15-20 point win that was the most likely scenario coming into the game.  Perhaps the emotional, hard-fought win at Purdue on Monday took some of the focus out of the minds and bounce out of the steps of the Cats … but either way, the Broncos came to play and responded repeatedly to Villanova attempts to grow the lead.

With 6:18 remaining in the game, a pair of Thomas Wilder free throws cut the Villanova lead to 59-56 and suddenly, yet methodically, Western Michigan had made it a one possession game coming down the stretch.  Kris Jenkins made the next bucket - a three-pointer - to double the margin.  Jalen Brunson added a lay-up for Villanova to expand the lead to eight.  The Broncos would then cut the lead to 6 with a lay-up at the 3:52 mark but Eric Paschall then hit a three-point dagger with 2:54 remaining that extended the Cats lead to 9 … Western Michigan would answer with a deuce but Josh Hart responded with a three-ball at 2:10 to make it a 70-60 ‘Nova lead and essentially seal the deal as the Broncos would never draw closer than 7 points from then on.


  • Held the Broncos to 3-16 (18.8%) three-point shooting
  • Shot 51% overall from the field, 39.1% from three, 62.5% from two and 79.2% from the line
  • Forced 18 turnovers - 12 steals
  • +18 scoring from beyond the arc
  • +7 scoring at the free-throw line


  • Out-rebounded 30-22 (improved second half rebounding after a poor first half)
  • 12 turnovers without a lot of up-tempo play

Josh Hart: 139 ORtg, 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 turnover.  Hart played with efficiency on offense, passion on defense and led the Cats in rebounding.  After ‘Nova was out-rebounded in the first half, Hart helped even things out in the second with a strong performance off the glass.  Shot a perfect 5-5 from the charity stripe.

Darryl Reynolds: 122 ORtg, 5 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 steal.  Played 34 minutes - contributing quality defense and rebounding but not a heavy does of “rim protection”.  After three games, it has become apparent that the Villanova offense will rely more on spreading the floor and dribble-driving than it will be able to work inside-out.  Last season, the Cats were able to dump the ball to Daniel Ochefu in the low post and let him find cutters and shooters when doubled or, if the help was late to arrive, to simply take his man to the basket.  Reynolds doesn’t have quite the passing ability or back-to-the-basket skill that Ochefu brought.  Reynolds did knock down a mid-range, baseline jumper.  As the offense continues to mature through the season, Reynolds will find his spots to contribute.  His defense and rebounding need to remain consistent.

Jalen Brunson: 119 ORtg, 14 points, 4-6 two-point shooting, 6-6 free-throws, 3 assists, 2 turnovers and 3 steals.  Brunson did some positive things off the bounce and was a bit more aggressive looking for his own shot than he was in the first two games.  He drew some fouls on the perimeter with crafty head and shoulder fakes and a knowledge of how to use his body to protect the ball while creating contact by the opponent.  Active defense.

Phil Booth: Posted a woeful 48 ORtg, took and missed two mid-range, pull-up jumpers on the right wing and canned 1 of 4 three-point field goal attempts.  Chipped in with 1 rebound, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, and a steal.  Booth needs to be a bit more aggressive creating offense off the dribble.  His defensive effort was okay.

Kris Jenkins: 112 ORtg, 11 points, played only 21 minutes.  Grabbed two defensive rebounds and grabbed four steals.  Jenkins has two turnovers without tallying an assist.  Jenkins had some early foul trouble which limited his minutes and seemed to keep him out of the flow on offense.  He appeared more tentative on defense in the opening portion of the second half, perhaps due to the foul difficulties.  He, like Booth, needs to be more aggressive off the dribble and look to set up teammates with passes off dribble-drive.

Eric Paschall: 125 ORtg, 17 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 block.  Paschall and Hart have done a nice job scoring the ball with a combination of jumpers and getting to the rim.  Neither of them has done much passing of the ball in the offense to keep things moving and create better looks.  The offense looks less crisp when it begins to consist of Hart and Paschall going one-on-one and other guys “standing by”.  With time, this should improve.

Mikal Bridges: 129 ORtg, 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 steal, 0 turnovers.  Again, Bridges made a highlight reel dunk (inbounding the ball to Reynolds, darting around him to receive the dribble hand-off, and then darting to the rim, elevating and flushing) and had a solid stat line.  Perhaps it is time for him to also look for his shot a little more.  Though you could argue that one thing that contributes in a large way to his efficiency on offense is his selectivity.  He continues to be disruptive on defense with his length and athleticism.  Played only 19 minutes.

Donte DiVincenzo: 99 ORtg, 6 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks.  Kind of an odd stat line for DiVincenzo in this game - did some scoring but didn’t make a dent in the other departments.  Dropped in a trey and a mid-range jumper with a solid looking stroke.

Dylan Painter: The Frosh big played a minute of garbage time to close out the game.

Villanova is now 3-0 on the season and needs to regroup quickly to face Wake Forest at 1:30 PM tomorrow.

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