Villanova Experience Leads to a Win On a Special Night

Caleb Daniels and Justin Moore Late Scoring Pushes Villanova Past DePaul

VILLANOVA, PA. 2/8/2023 –

On the night when Villanova honored Jay Wright and retired Jalen Brunson’s number, it honored the past, and continued what was built. That is the reliance of experienced players to lead the team in tough situations.

After a stretch where the lead changed on 9 consecutive possessions, Caleb Daniels nailed a three-pointer at the 10:46 mark to give Villanova the lead. The Wildcats went on to defeat the DePaul Blue Demons 81 – 65 at the Finneran Pavilion.

“We know we’ve got some guys that definitely have some mileage, been in college basketball for awhile,” said Villanova Coach Kyle Neptune. “We’re going to continue to rely on those guys down the stretch of the season.”

The Key Run Sparked by Daniels and Moore

The Daniels three-ball started an 18 – 10 run that tilted the game in the direction of Villanova. Daniels and Moore scored 8 points in that critical stretch. It was a matter of the ball getting to them within the scope of the offense.

“I think letting the game come to me, and I’m trusting my teammates,” said Daniels. “We just made the right plays, and it just so happened That the ball swinging back my way and I was staying on attack. So there’s a credit mainly to my teammates finding me and just making the right plays.”

Daniels had a team-high 18 points shooting 7 of 10 from the floor and 4 of 5 from distance.

The Return of Moore to the Home Court

Moore played his first game at the Finneran Pavilion this season. He was excited to be back again. The senior guard scored a season-high 17 points.

“It’s always special,” said Moore. “It means a lot to me being out there with my brothers once again. It’s just fun to be able to compete with them at the highest level.”

The Old Reliable Defense

Nova led 37 – 34 at halftime, but the Demons were shooting the ball at a 48.3% clip. The second half was different as they were held to 11 of 28 (39.3%) and just 2 of 11 from distance. Getting stops was the reason and the team played harder for a longer period of time.

What the Numbers Say

All five Villanova starters put up double-digits. Freshman Cam Whitmore scored 17 points. Eric Dixon added 13 points and pulled down a team-high 8 rebounds. Brandon Slater had 10 points. Brendan Housen scored 6 points on back-to-back three’s that gave the Wildcats a 28 – 22 lead.

DePaul was led by Javan Johnson and Umoja Gibson who contributed 18 points each. Eral Penn crashed the boards getting a game-high 9 rebounds.

Emotional Ceremonies

Prior to the game Villanova honored former Coach Jay Wright for his contributions to Villanova basketball. At halftime the school retired Jalen Brunson’s number. His accolades are so numerous; such as Player of the Year and winning many awards. He led the team to the 2018 National Championship. He had two memorable messages in his speech. One in that he and his sister are Villanovan’s and that they were produced by two Temple Owls. Then, Brunson asked for one more sentence for the crowd. “Go Birds!”

A special night as two Wildcats were honored. And each wanted the spotlight on the other.

“This is special for what this man has meant to me and my family,” Brunson said. “I wouldn’t want it any other way. I came here to play for Coach. The fact that he is here on the sidelines is a special feeling.”

“This is his night really,” said Wright. “I was coming anyway for him. He is humble and intelligent enough to know I still have to get better. and the coaches are pushing me to just see something in me, they’re not criticizing me. It’s the perfect package.”


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