After playing their sixth game in 13 days, the No.2 Villanova Wildcats were able to defeat the College of Charleston, 63-47, on Wednesday night at the Pavilion. The Villanova offense looked sluggish at times, but they were able to muscle through a tough team in the College of Charleston. Villanova head coach Jay Wright gives credit to the Charleston Defense.
“You have to give the College of Charleston credit,” Wright said. “They play a controlled tempo. They handle the ball well. They’ve got tough guards; they defend well. They weren’t a team we could put away.”
Wright knew this going into tonight’s game because they were able to see them play in the Charleston Classic last week, in which they were the host team for the tournament.
Charleston was able to jump out to an early 5-2 lead, but the Wildcats were able to take charge and pull away for the rest of the game. Josh Hart led the Wildcats with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and played aggressive the entire night. With guard Phil Booth out in tonight’s game (due to inflammation in his knee), Villanova had a seven-man rotation for the night and were able to get contributions out of their bench. Eric Paschall started the game tonight and scored the first basket for the Wildcats with a dunk. He had finished with eight points, five rebounds, and three assists in his first career start.
“I think it’s real important for Eric,” said Wright on Paschall’s versatility to play multiple positions. “He can play the 3-4-5. He’s learning how to do that. He did a good job of not fouling until the very end. He did a good job against Haas. He can do it and those guys are going to have a tough time guarding him.”
“I have to be prepared at this level to guard anybody, one through five” Paschall said. “Especially in the defense we play. I have to get the mindset to defend anybody, doesn’t matter how big or small they are. I have to get ready for that.”
As far as the toughness of the Charleston defense, they were able to display that in the first half. They made Villanova work hard on every offensive possession and were able to keep Jalen Brunson scoreless in the first half. Brunson scored his first basket in the opening minutes of the second half. He would finish the game with seven points, going three for four from the foul line. In order to work hard for every shot on offense, Villanova’s ball movement allowed them to create open looks as they had 13 assists on 21 baskets in Wednesday’s contest. They were able to get their playmakers the ball, including Hart and his fellow classmate, Kris Jenkins. Jenkins finished with 11 points, including a couple of 3-pointers.
On the defensive side of the ball, Villanova was able to frustrate the College of Charleston throughout the whole game. Wright mixed up the defenses in multiple ways; They trapped the point guard in his 1-2-2 full court press, and switched between man-to-man and zone in their half-court defensive sets. They held the College of Charleston to going 19-of-54 (35 percent). While the defense looked impressive, Coach Wright thought his defense could have played better.
“Average,” said Wright about his team’s defensive effort. “We can create a lot of offense off our defense and we just weren’t able to do that tonight. We weren’t as energized.”
With a couple days off, the Wildcats will get ready for Big 5 starting against Penn at the Palestra next Tuesday and the annual Holy War Against Saint Joseph’s next Saturday.
“It’s always exciting” says Wright on the start of Big 5 play. “[Paschall] doesn’t know about that, Donte (DiVincenzo) doesn’t know about that, to educate them about the intensity of it. We have to play harder, and a lot more intense than the games we have played. Penn is playing really well, and they played well against us last year. They played us tough last year and they are a year older. So we know they are going to play us tough again this year.”