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Villanova vs. Temple score: Wildcats use monster second half to defeat Owls

The Wildcats turned it on in the second half to score a win over their Big 5 rival.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Temple Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The Villanova Wildcats were trailing at the end of the first half to their Big 5 rivals. The Temple Owls seemingly had a stranglehold over the ‘Cats, who were pretty sizable favorites on the road at the Liacouras Center. But that didn’t stop ‘Nova from racing back ahead.

The ‘Cats used a monster 20-2 run to pull ahead of the Owls and wouldn’t soon look back from there. They would outscore their Big 5 adversary 50-26 in the second half and won 76-56. That win gives ‘Nova yet another Big 5 outright championship, having knocked off the La Salle Explorers, Penn Quakers, Saint Joseph’s Hawks and Temple consecutively.

Villanova was taken down a few pegs in the beginning of the game after going out to a 6-0 lead. Temple would respond with a 7-0 run of their own and would jump out to a six-point lead later on. The halftime score was 30-26 in favor of the Owls, and Villanova was certainly put on skates.

But thanks to deft 3-point shooting from the jump, ‘Nova led 46-32 near the 14-minute mark of the second half. Jermaine Samuels, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore each knocked down at least one 3-ball through the opening six minutes of the first half. That combined effort sparked the ‘Cats in a big, big way, and would eventually lead them to the decisive victory to clinch the Big 5 Championship.

Temple would cut to within seven thanks to a Quinton Ross layup at the 10:05 mark, but Gillespie responded with a jump shot to prop the lead up to nine. Gillespie would later hit a 3-ball with 6:24 to go to give them a 14-point lead, as they just kept pouring it on from there. Saddiq Bey hit a 3-ball to go to 68-49 and Moore dropped in another with 2:57 to play to put the ‘Cats up 71-49.

Cole Swider dropped in a trey ball of his own at the :52 mark to give them that 76-56 lead that they’d hold onto for the remainder of the game.

Gillespie really led the charge in this game, scoring 29 points on 11-for-19 from the floor. He shot 7-for-11 from 3-point land, and helped lead them to a 17-for-36 mark from beyond the arc. Samuels scored 13 points and Robinson-Earl dropped in 10 of his own to give ‘Nova three players in double figures. Bey and Moore each finished with nine points and Swider added in six.

Quinton Rose led Temple with 22 points on the day. Nate Pierre-Louis followed with 16 points, and Monty Scott had seven points. Josh Pierre-Louis, Jake Forrester, Alani Moore II and Justyn Hamilton each chipped in at least two points in the loss.

Villanova has now pieced together two victories in a row, having defeated Temple and the Marquette Golden Eagles this week. They will seek their 20th victory of the season on Wednesday when they face the DePaul Blue Demons in Chicago.