VILLANOVA, PA. 2/3/2016 – #3/4 Villanova Wildcats upped their Big East record to 9 – 1 with an 83 – 58 win over the Creighton Blue Jays. It was the 37th straight win at The Pavilion, and the Cats did it with defense holding Creighton 23 points under their scoring average. And Villanova shot well from behind the three-point line.
As the three for the Blue Jays stopped falling, the Wildcats continued to make shots from distance. Of the first 20 shots in the game 15 were from beyond the arc. Villanova led at that point by a 15 – 12 margin. In the first half the visitors made 7 of 19 from three-point lane, but were only 1 of 6 in the second half.
“I liked the way we stayed consistent and kept defending,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “They rushed their shots a little. In the second half we did a really good job of containing Watson.”
Villanova was more consistent making 7 three’s in the first half and 9 in the second half, making 16 of 29 three-point attempts. Junior forward Kris Jenkins led the way with 22 points, 7 of 11 overall and 4 of 6 three-pointers. Jenkins followed up on his 14 point and 11 rebound performance against St. John’s with another solid effort. He credits the team for his stretch of good shooting games
“I give credit to my teammates,” said Jenkins. “They do a good job of making plays and making the right plays. Today the right plays happened to get me to shoot the ball.”
Creighton held a 24 – 20 edge with 8:05 to play. Villanova went on a 10 – 0 run over the next 4 minutes to take a 30 – 24 lead. The Wildcats closed out the half with a 13 – 4 in the last 2:35 to earn a 45 – 32 advantage at intermission.
That trend would continue as the Villanova edge opened to 19 points four minutes into the second half. The lead would grow to as many as 31 points for Nova.
“Defensively I didn’t think we competed at a level that we are capable of competing,” said Creighton Coach Doug McDermott. “They have six players that can make a three and we didn’t have an answer for any one of them.”
The Wildcats had three other layers reach double figures as Jalen Brunson scored 16 points and Josh Hart added 13 points. Phil Booth scored 1o points and had a game-high 6 assists. Forward Darryl Reynolds pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds.
Maurice Watson, Jr., Creighton’s leading scorer, scored 16 points, the only player for the Blue Jays to top the ten point level. He added 5 assists.
Villanova (19 – 3 overall) played without center Daniel Ochefu who is out while under the university concussion protocol. His absence hurts, but is giving a chance for younger Nova players to gain game experience.
“Tonight we got into synch without him and I am proud of they way our guys played without him and when he (Ochefu) returns it will make us a better team.”
Next up for the Wildcats is a trip to Providence on Saturday and a chance to avenge their only Big East loss.
Written By: Glenn Papazian