Villanova Closes Out Against DePaul, 81-65


Graydon Paul

Cam Whitmore finished with 17 points Wednesday night.

Owen Hewitt, Co-Sports Editor

Villanova bested DePaul 81-65 Wednesday night at the Finneran Pavilion behind 18 points from graduate guard Caleb Daniels. The Wildcats utilized a 13-2 run over the last five minutes of game time to put away the Blue Demons. The win improves the ‘Cats to 11-13 overall and 5-8 in Big East play.

All five of Villanova’s starters scored in double figures, with freshman forward Cam Whitmore and senior guard Justin Moore scoring 17 each. Redshirt junior Eric Dixon contributed 13 points along with eight rebounds, and graduate forward Brandon Slater added 10.  

“I think we played harder for longer,” head coach Kyle Neptune said. “[In] past games, we might have [given] 25, 30 [minutes]. I can’t say [we gave] a full 40, but maybe 34, 35. That’s been our goal and our mission all year, to put together 40 minutes, and we’re going to keep working towards that.” 

The ‘Cats came out sluggish, scoring just two points in the first five minutes of play. Things would pick up midway through the first half, when the ‘Cats went on a 21-4 run to build up an eight point lead. The run was spurred by three pointers, including two from freshman guard Brendan Hausen, his only points of the night.  

Whitmore also hit his only three of the night during that stretch. He finished 1-6 from three-point range. Inside, Whitmore looked more comfortable than he has in the past, as he converted on 6-8 of his shots from within the arc.  

The ‘Cats went into the locker room at the halftime break with a 37-34 lead. At the half, former Wildcat Jalen Brunson’s jersey was retired, highlighted by a speech from the current New York Knicks guard. 

After the break, the ‘Cats lost their lead, as DePaul went on a 9-0 run of its own. Whitmore scored six straight for the ‘Cats to get back the lead, including a ferocious dunk. From around the 15 minute mark of the second half, the game appeared as if it would remain tight, with the lead only getting up to a seven-point advantage in favor of the ‘Cats.  

Then Villanova ran away with it. The ‘Cats went on an 11-0 run in the final 3:14 of the game to secure the victory. The Wildcats were able to close out the game, which was the opposite of what they had done in the prior two games.  

“Like Coach [Neptune] said, we have to play harder for longer,” Moore said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to work on all season, defending and rebounding at a higher level.” 

Whitmore put the exclamation point on the game with a fast-break slam to push the scoreline to its final, 81-65.  

Villanova’s next game comes against Seton Hall on Saturday. The game is at Wells Fargo Center and is slated for an 8 P.M. tip. The Pirates are coming off a tough loss to No. 23 Creighton, 75-62, and are currently fighting for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.