In a gritty debut to Big 5 play, the Villanova Wildcats defeated the La Salle Explorers 85-78 at the famed Palestra court in Philadelphia, PA.
For a majority of the game, Villanova’s “lead” was limited to their points scored in the early single seconds. La Salle, without top scorer Pookie Powell, managed to dominate much the gameplay, splashing a relentless fury of three-pointers. Capitalizing on the initial slow pace of the Wildcats, the Explorers were quick to shoot from the perimeter. La Salle didn’t limit their impact to the shooting, however—in the first half, the Explorers decidedly out-rebounded ‘Nova, and even clogged the Wildcats’ offensive rebounding to a single nab.
To Villanova’s credit, ‘Nova managed to break-through their persistent scoreboard lag near the mid-point of the second half. Responding to La Salle’s three-point shooting with a litany of three-pointers of their own, the Wildcats finished the game scoring 57% of 3FGs. Senior Eric Paschall had a monster night to lead Villanova’s comeback, dropping 27 points. Fellow senior Phil Booth and sophomore Collin Gillespie joined Paschall to top ‘Nova’s shooting, scoring 19 and 15 points, respectively.
Villanova has now won 23 consecutive games in Big 5 play. The Wildcats next attempt to continue their growing Big 5 record against Temple, playing the Owls on Wed., Dec 5th at home in the Finn.