Wildcats Defeat Friars at Home, 71-56


Courtesy of VU Hoops

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl slams a dunk over the Friars.

Anders Pryor, Staff Writer

The Villanova Wildcats cruise past the Providence Friars 71-56 with notable performances from Gillespie, Moore, and Daniels who put up 15, 15, and 12, respectively.

Jay Wright switched up the starting lineup last night, opting for Caleb Daniels and Jermaine Samuels instead of Brandon Slater and Cole Swider. Daniels and Samuels didn’t have as much practice going into this game due to Covid-19 protocol caused by the break for the team. 

Collin Gillespie spoke on the adjustment after the game. “We just wanted to get those guys back in the gym during the first game back, so they have time to get it all together after coming back from protocol,” Gillespie said. “They’ve started all year, and we wanted to make sure they get back to getting comfortable in the starting five.”

The time off from Covid-19 took an obvious toll in the first half. Even when leading, there was a sense of a lack of coordination and patience, a lack that was obviously not seen in the Seton Hall game just days ago. There were moments where players didn’t slide to their defensive rotation in time or when the speed of guards beat them without a second thought. Villanova basketball is prided on a methodical pace that involves making the extra pass in spacing when necessary, which was short handed today when players took good shots instead of great ones. Robinson Earl had 3 points in the first half, and Samuels had 1. Providence outdid Villanova in transition scoring, 13-5.

Despite the early scoring drought, the big men set the tone early, playing aggressive and persistently. Robinson-Earl held his own with rebounding presence, boxing guys out past his own circle using his frame. Jermaine Samuels stuck to playing in the paint and driving to the basket with force. Setting the temperature, he was able to get Providence in some early foul trouble that would eventually set up momentum for the Wildcats in the second half. Friars Jimmy Nichols, Nate Watson, A.J. Reeves and Greg Gantt all had 2 personal fouls in the first 20 minutes of the game. 

Moore was able to hold the team together and be the backbone when Colin was not on the floor. He played aggressive defense against the Friar guards, and was able to push the tempo from start to finish. When the duo played simultaneously, they had active hands to disrupt potential Providence runs down the stretch. It was a big contributor in for a late push to get them back within striking distance for the second half of play. 

The second half looked much more in character. The guard triplet of Gillespie, Moore and Daniels were able to use well spaced threes to force Providence to rush their play as time slowly wined down. JRE returned to form in the second half, using his frame on the offensive end to be elusive yet forceful on the rim.

Moore remarked on how Coach Wright got them ready for the second half. “We just talked about playing aggressive, using the shot fake to get to the lane, spacing out the floor,” Moore said. “Most importantly, we talked about getting focused on defense, which is the theme of most of what we talk about.”

The Wildcats will take on the 23rd ranked University of Connecticut Huskies this Thursday, the 28th, at 9:00 P.M.