In Control: Villanova Defeats Seton Hall to Pick Up 9th Straight Win


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Robinson-Earl shoots against Seton Hall. 

Alex Tantum, Staff Writer

Villanova picked up their third win since returning from a 27-day pause due to COVID-19, and their second over Seton Hall over an 11-day stretch, defeating their Big East rival 80-72. While the opponent was the same as the first game back from the COVID-break, and the result was the same, the game itself was much different than that of 11 days ago. 

In the game between Villanova and Seton Hall at Finneran Pavilion on January 19th, Seton Hall led for much of the first half, and the two teams battled throughout, with neither squad ever out of reach of a win. Today’s game could not have been more different in that respect. Though Villanova’s win was by no means a blowout, the Wildcats were in control from the tip. They were up 17-9 at the under-12 timeout in the first half, and 25-12 at the under-8 timeout. The team led by as much as 16 in the first, yet even with Seton Hall cutting the deficit to 10 at half, there did not seem to be any threat. 

The second half was much of the same. The team helped themselves by going 20-23 from the free throw line, good for 87%. Seton Hall eventually whittled the lead down to 7 with 2:33 left, but again, no anxiety seemed to be felt by Villanova. That was the closest point of the game since Villanova had gone up 17-9 with 12:18 remaining in the first half on a Cole Swider made three-pointer, with the assist from Collin Gillespie. Seton Hall had no large runs throughout the game, and Wright noted that part of the reason Jeremiah-Robinson Earl played so few minutes (despite being in foul trouble with four fouls in the second half) was that the team’s control over the game in turn gave him the control to not put Robinson-Earl in until the closing minutes. 

The assist from Gillespie on Swider’s three that put the ‘Cats up 17-9 was one of his  career high 11, picking up a double-double with 11 points as well in 36 minutes of action. Coach Jay Wright stated that Gillespie “…got shots for everyone else, and controlled the tempo of the game…he was outstanding.” Typical of Villanova teams under Wright, though, this was a very balanced attack. Although Jeremiah Robinson-Earl did not play his typical amount of minutes, he still put up 23 points on 8-12 shooting. Meanwhile, Jermaine Samuels had 17 points, and Justin Moore had 16 points, shooting 4-5 from three. Caleb Daniels and Cole Swider contributed with 7 and 6 points, respectively. Swider was the only points off of the bench, but Wright believes that the bench has great potential and is “not concerned” over the lack of output there. 

It wasn’t all about the offense; the team put forth a solid defensive effort today as well, limiting Seton Hall star Sandro Mamukelashvili to 12 points on 4-15 shooting. Coach Wright mentioned that he “thought we really started to get it going defensively at the end of the first half,” and praised Jeremiah Robinson-Earl for his defense, stating that he thinks of Robinson-Earl as “the centerpiece” of the team’s defense. Having said this, Wright still thinks that they feel like there “…is a lot of room for improvement.”

Looking ahead, Villanova’s next game comes Wednesday, February 3rd at 9 pm EST against St. John’s, who is 10-7 on the season. Villanova will be looking for a 10th straight win to put them at 12-1 on the season.