Moore Returns, Providence Bests Villanova, 70-65


Graydon Paul/Villanovan Photography

Justin Moore (above) made his season debut Sunday.

Owen Hewitt, Co-Sports Editor

Senior guard Justin Moore made his season debut on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center as Villanova lost to No. 23 Providence, 70-65. The loss drops the Wildcats to 10-11 overall and 4-6 in Big East play.

Moore, who hadn’t seen action in a little over 10 months after tearing his achilles against Houston in the 2022 NCAA tournament, found out he would be starting a couple days before the game.

“We had a long week of practice,” Moore said. “I got to practice with the guys a lot and get into the lineup.”

Villanova head coach Kyle Neptune was impressed with what he saw out of Moore’s season debut.

“I thought he looked good,” Neptune said. ”But the thing that he brings more than anything is just another leader out there who’s been through a lot of battles. That’s all we really ask of him is to just be the leader of this team, and to come out and play as hard as he can.”

Moore’s help did seem to provide a spark for the ‘Cats, but it wasn’t enough to best the Friars. Moore contributed five points, four rebounds and four assists. Freshman Forward Cam Whitmore led the game with 21 points and nine rebounds while 4-8 shooting from three.

“It was great to be out there with my teammates,” Moore said. “They were excited for me, I was excited, we really just wanted to focus on playing harder than the other team and competing out there.”

Graduate guard Jared Bynum led the Friars with 19 off the bench. 17 of his 19 came in the second half, and seven came in the last five minutes.

“He’s just a tough player,” Neptune said. “He makes really tough shots. You can be there, and he just makes a really good play. He made quite a few tough shots over high hands.”

The game stayed close throughout, with the largest lead of the afternoon being a seven-point advantage for Villanova midway through the second half. The ‘Cats had opportunities to put themselves back in it after the Friars built a six-point lead with 2:37 to play, but they could not take advantage of them. Missed shots and a turnover by Moore allowed the Friars to close the game out. The ‘Cats have been in a lot of close games this year, playing in seven contests that were decided by five points or fewer. The ‘Cats are 2-5 in those games, with wins coming against Georgetown and Oklahoma.

“We fight,” Neptune said. “No matter what game it is we fight and give ourselves a chance, we just have to put together a full 40 minutes.”

Villanova will see its next action in Milwaukee as it faces Marquette on Wednesday. The ‘Cats lost a close contest at home the last time they faced the Golden Eagles, 68-66. Marquette is coming off a 20-point win at DePaul on Saturday. The game is set for an 8:30 P.M. tip, and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.