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Villanova defeats Boston College in Empire Classic

The Wildcats came from behind in the second half but got the job done.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at DePaul Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The #3 Villanova Wildcats survived a second half scare against the Boston College Eagles to pull away with a 76-67 win and move to 1-0 on the year Wednesday evening at the Mohegan Sun.

Villanova jumped out to an early lead which they held for most of the first half before Boston College came storming back to take a brief lead off a Makai Ashton-Langford layup. The teams would wind up tied going into the half as the Wildcats struggled to find consistency from the field and Boston College leading returning scorer Jay Heath got hot from the field with 11 points on 5-8 shooting. Heath would lead all Boston College players in the game with 16 points.

Boston College kept the switch flipped in the second half, extending their lead to nine points off an Ashton-Langford three with 13 minutes to play. As is so often the case with Jay Wright coached teams, though, Villanova remained cool and responded. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Collin Gillespie, and Caleb Daniels took over and changed the game, scoring 21 of Nova’s final 26 points and leading the team from down by eight to the final margin of up by nine.

Robinson-Earl led the Wildcats with 18 points and 10 rebounds, his 11th career double-double. Gillespie struggled from the field for most of the game, but finished with 15 points on 5-16 shooting. Daniels and Justin Moore each added 14.

Villanova, like every single team in the nation, still has bugs to work out. They likely will for weeks. This is standard stuff for a Jay Wright team, as they keep evolving in order to reach their final form by March. However, pulling out an opening night win against a fellow power conference team is not a bad way to start the season, Villanova’s next test comes Thursday evening against Arizona State.