On a game after beating No. 15 Purdue on the road, the Wildcats were able to survive a close win and defeat Western Michigan 76-65 in their first game of the Gildan Charleston Classic.
After a tough win on Monday night, the Wildcats looked sluggish at times, thinking that they were going to walk all over the Broncos, who had nine freshman on the team. While the Wildcat offense was able to score, their defensive play was sloppy, as Western Michigan picked apart the press. Fortunately for the ‘Cats, sophomore transfer Eric Paschall was able to contribute in a big way off the bench, scoring a team-high 17 points in order to propel the third-ranked ‘Cats to a victory.
While the Wildcat offense was scoring in bunches, there were times on the defensive end that they weren’t able to stop the Broncos. Junior Thomas Wilder, who would finish the game with 19 points, was able to penetrate the Wildcat defense and find open shots for himself or open layups for his teammates.
Western Michigan was able to put up a tough fight, as they were able to outrebound Villanova 30-22. While the ‘Cats seemed a bit lackadaisical during the game, they were able to force turnovers on defense. The Broncos turned it over 18 times, converting some of them into 15 points.
It didn’t help that Kris Jenkins had a rather quiet day. Despite scoring 11 points and having his first made basket a three pointer, he was in foul trouble early, picking up two fouls in the first half and sitting out a significant amount of time. Senior Josh Hart had 14 points and was able to score at will once more. The MVP for the Wildcats tonight came from their bench. Paschall was able to stay out of foul trouble and was able to hit big time shots when it mattered most. The sophomore, who only played nine minutes against Purdue due to fouling out, was 5-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-6 from three. By playing solid basketball offensively and defensively, he was able to contribute in a major way, including making a 3-pointer down the stretch that was able to secure the Wildcats the lead for the game.
Jalen Brunson was able to show the improvement of his offensive game as well, finishing the game with 14 points and three assists.
Villanova plays Danny Manning’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in the semi-finals of the Charleston Classic. Wake Forest is coming off a high scoring performance against UTEP, as it was able to defeat the Miners 103-81.