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3-point barrage leads Villanova over Xavier

The Wildcats dropped 15 3-balls on the Musketeers.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

15 — you read it, FIF-TEEN — 3-pointers helped carry the Villanova Wildcats to victory on Friday night.

For the 22nd time since the 2010-11 season, the Wildcats hit at least 15 3-pointers in a single game. ‘Nova unleashed this 3-point barrage on the Xavier Musketeers, who fell at the hands of the ‘Cats in Philly by the score of 85-75.

At the forefront of this long-range attack were Collin Gillespie and Phil Booth. Gillespie led the way with six 3-pointers on the night. Somehow, without a shred of irony or coincidence, it’s the 22nd time since at least the 2010-11 season that a Villanova player has hit at least six 3-pointers in a single game. He didn’t quite hit the mark that Kris Jenkins and Darrun Hilliard hit (8) but he is still in some great company.

Booth being one of those players, in fact. Phil hit five 3-pointers on the night as he continued his great play of late. He led the team in points with 22, which marked the fourth consecutive game in which he’s had over 20 points. He shot 8-for-16 from the field, a perfect 50 percent. Over the last four games, he’s now shot 32 for his last 62 from the field, putting him at 51.6 percent in that time span. Pretty good eh?

Eric Paschall had an off night shooting but still got up to 17 points on the evening. Paschall found other areas to contribute as he picked up eight rebounds and four assists and had only two turnovers in 37 minutes.

The Wildcats as a whole played a clean game, with 10 turnovers over the course of their 63 possessions.

Despite losing by 10 and feeling the wrath of ‘Nova’s 3-point attack, Xavier played pretty well all things considered. Their flaws were in their 3-point shooting and free throws. The shot just 33.3 percent from beyond the arc and merely 65 percent at the line. They only had one made 3-pointer in the first half to Villanova’s eight. They kept making it close, but Villanova would just hammer away at them and eventually, the deficit was just too much to overcome.

Xavier got 21 points out of Tyrique Jones, who had a double-double with 12 rebounds. Jones was 7-for-14 from the field and 7-for-10 from the FT line, a stout day at the office, especially since he also committed no turnovers in 34 minutes.

Naji Marshall had 15 points, seven assists, six rebounds and played all 40 minutes once again. It’s the fourth straight game in which Marshall has played from bell to bell, so you certainly can’t deny his efforts at all. He’s committed just five turnovers in the last three games, including just two on Friday night. So despite going the distance, he’s still not making any mistakes.

Paul Scruggs couldn’t quite follow up his 23-point effort from his last go-around. Scruggs had just seven points but did have four assists and four rebounds. Quentin Goodin got into double figures with 12 points and had three assists as well. Zach Hankins joined Goodin, Marshall and Jones in double figures with 12 points in 32 minutes of action.

Villanova is now 5-0 in the Big East, which is to say that the king is still the king for now. Despite early hiccups against Michigan, Furman, Penn and Kansas, the Wildcats are reverting back to form against Big East competition. This marked the second straight game in which they’ve defeated a Big East opponent by double digits. So uh, yeah, watch out, y’all. Do YOU want to be the ones who said you doubted Villanova?

Xavier meanwhile falls to 11-8 on the season and 3-3 in Big East play. This was always going to be a year in transition for the Musketeers after losing five impact players from last season. You can see the talent there and the pieces coming together, but it just might not be meant to be this season. That isn’t to say that they should pack it in here in mid-January, but they’ve got steep hills to climb still and would need to go on a ridiculous run to make the NCAA Tournament, or even the NIT.

‘Nova looks for revenge at Hinkle against the Butler Bulldogs, while Xavier will welcome the Providence Friars to Cincinnati in these teams’ next go-arounds.