Villanova jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never trailed as they beat the DePaul Blue Demons 87-71 at the Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.
DePaul cut Villanova’s lead to 20-19 with 10:11 to go in the first half, but the Wildcats went on an eight point run to expand their lead to 28-19, and never looked back.
The Wildcats were led by juniors Maalik Wayns with 21 points, Dominic Cheek with 20, and Mouph Yarou with 14. Villanova dominated the boards, holding a 45-23 rebounding edge over the Blue Demons. For the second straight game, Wayns led the team in rebounding.
More astonishingly, the Wildcats overcame 28 turnovers (to 14 assists) to defeat DePaul and earn their first Big East win of the season.
Villanova led at intermission 48-36 and outscored DePaul in the second half 39-35. Overall Villanova shot 56% (28 of 50), including 40% from three-point range (4 of 10).
The Wildcats also sank 27 of 34 foul-shots (79.4%).
Despite the high number of turnovers, Villanova played with high energy and enthusiasm, and got key contributions from Freshman Tyrone Johnson and Markus Kennedy (both of whom started the game). Johnson had 7 points and 5 assists, and Kennedy added 3 points and 7 rebounds.
JayVaughn Pinkston chipped in 13 points off the bench, Darrun Hilliard chipped in 4 points (and three rebounds), and James Bell added 5 points, including a thunderous dunk that brought both his teammates and the crowd to their feet. Every Villanova player who saw action scored. Ach Yacoubou and Maurice Sutton did not play.
Defensively, the Wildcats held DePaul to 38.2% shooting. DePaul was also held to 29.6% shooting from behind the arc.
For the visitors, Brandon Young with 22 points, and Cleveland Melvin with 19 points, were the only players in double figures. Melvin was also their leading rebounder with 4, and Young led the team in assists with 6. DePaul’s assist to turnover ratio was on the positive side at 17 to 14.
With the badly needed win, Villanova improved its record to 8-8 overall, 1-3 Big East. With the loss, DePaul dropped to 10-5 overall, 1-2 Big East. Up next for the Wildcats is a date with the #1 team in the nation, the Syracuse Orange, at the Wells-Fargo Center on Wednesday night (7pm/ESPN). DePaul next plays at Seton Hall on January 10th.
In attendance were several former Villanova players as well as 2012-13 recruit Ryan Arcidiacono (who according to coach Jay Wright, recently had minor back surgery but is expected to be fully ready for next season).
[photo credits: Christian Hafer]