The Villanova Wildcats showed off their brand new arena to the college basketball world on Tuesday night, as they defeated the Morgan State Bears, 100-77, in the first game at the newly renovated Finneran Pavilion.
Villanova was in control for most of the game, despite Morgan State holding it close at points in the first half. The Wildcats led for the entire night. That’s not to say they were without defensive lapses (Morgan State shot 46% in the first half), but a 20 point win is a 20 point win. Jay Wright will undoubtedly try to spin it by saying the defense needs to be better, but what else can he say at this point? The offense picked up right where it left off last year.
Seven different Wildcats hit at least one three, with newcomers Joe Cremo and Saddiq Bey leading the way with three each. It’s clear, however, that the Villanova offense will run through Eric Paschall and Phil Booth this season. Paschall had 26 points on (on 7-11 shooting) and led the team with seven rebounds, while Booth had 17 points on 7-13 shooting.
Wright and the Wildcats are still trying to figure out the starting lineup, as Tuesday’s group was Booth and Paschall along with Jermaine Samuels, Collin Gillespie, and Dylan Painter. The freshman class of Cole Swider, Jahvon Quinerly, Brandon Slater, and Bey mostly looked like they were learning on the fly and getting used to the college game, aside from Bey who finished with 16 points.
It’s hard to gauge Villanova too much based on this performance. They played all the hits, got points from players you would expect them to get points from, improved on defense throughout the game, and sent the fans home happy. Next up, they’ll face Baker Dunleavy and Quinnipiac
Isaiah Burke led Morgan State with 17 points.