VILLANOVA, PA. 1/14/2020 – The #14 Villanova Wildcats extended their winning streak over the Blue Demons of DePaul to 19 games. But the Wildcats were extended to overtime to defeat the Blue Demons 79 – 75 at The Finn. DePaul went on a 18 – 6 run and tied the game at 67 in regulation. Villanova got a lead in overtime, then held off the Blue Demons to get their 9th win on their last 10 games. But the Cats needed toughness and resilience to get the win.
“You know the mistakes you made going down the stretch in regulation yet to stick together is a great testament to Collin’s (Gillespie) leadership and Jermaine (Samuels) and Dada (Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree) who kept everyone together,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “That’s their job. And that’s what a season is, you go through it, you learn how to trust each other in tough situations.”
In the second half Nova had the advantage, but could not shake DePaul. It would be a reoccurring theme in the contest. With the game tied at 43 with thirteen and a half minutes on the clock Villanova was in control over the next nine minutes and went in front 61 – 49 keyed by Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Saddiq Bey. The Cats appeared to be in control.
The next four minutes belonged to DePaul as guard Charlie Moore found the range from distance scoring 10 points including a layup with 8.4 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. Moore finished with a game-high 29 points, a season-high, making 10 of 17 shots, half from beyond the arc.
In overtime Nova would get no more than a four point lead. Collin Gillespie had 6 of the 12 points in the extra period, all from the foul line. Gillespie scored a team-high 21 points and played the most minutes for his team.
“We got down early and battled back,” said Gillespie. “We have to start to learn how to compete for a full forty minutes.”
The Wildcats converted 18 of 21 free throws with Gillespie making 9 of 10 from the line.
And that’s how it ended, Villanova got a lead, DePaul kept on their heels.
“That’s the way the Big East is going to be like this year, you have to survive,” said Wright. “We were fortunate to come out with a victory. We’ll take it. Any Big East victory is going to be valuable this year.”
Three other Wildcats scored in double-figures, Bey added 18 points as he continues to score for Nova. Jermaine Samuels scored 15 points, and Robinson-Earl recorded his 5th double-double getting 13 points and rebounds.
Paul Reed scored 18 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, his 12th double-double of the season. He stole the ball 5 times. Fellow front court mate Jaylen Butz put in 16 counters and grabbed 6 boards for the Blue Demons, who had a 37 – 33 edge in rebounds.
“It was difficult,” said Robinson-Earl about going against the DePaul front court. “They were athletic, they were long, very physical. I feel that it was a great learning experience going against those long, physical bigs in there.”
The Wildcats improve to 13 – 3 and are 4 – 1 in the Big East. Wright knows to expect games like this as conference play continues.
Villanova faces UConn at the Wells Fargo Center in a non-conference game next, then nationally ranked Butler visits on campus.
Written By: Glenn Papazian