Wright notches 500th win as Villanova tops Xavier 73-57



Greg Welsh

In a game where both teams were plagued by injuries, the Wildcats topped the Musketeers 73-57 to give Jay Wright his 500th career win as a Division 1 Head Coach. The win also gives Villanova a commanding two-game lead in the Big East conference with just five games to play.

The ‘Cats were led in the scoring department by their two ball handlers, Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo who each recorded 17 points. The two were joined in double figures by teammates Kris Jenkins with 12, Josh Hart with 11 and Mikal Bridges, who used both a strong start and finish to end the contest with 10 points.

Shortly before the game it was announced that the Wildcats starting center, Darryl Reynolds, would be missing the game with a rib injury. Although a significant loss, this injury was nothing compared to what the Musketeers were dealing with. Point guard Edmond Sumner is out for the year with a torn ACL and leading scorer Trevon Bluiett re-aggravated an ankle injury early in the first half and was essentially a non-factor the rest of the game.

On their rowdy home court, the Cintas Center, Xavier jumped out to a quick 10-5 lead after a 3 by sharpshooter J.P. Macura. However, following Bluiett’s injury with 12 minutes left in the first half, the Musketeers could not keep pace with the nation’s No. 2 team. After taking the lead 14-12 off a DiVincenzo three pointer right before the 10-minute mark, the Wildcats never looked back and led the rest of the way.

Without their big man Reynolds, Villanova struggled on the glass, getting out-rebounded 42-27, including a 22-6 deficit on the offense glass. Despite the fact that the Wildcats, as Jay Wright put it, “couldn’t rebound,” the team, “played great defense and executed.” Using tenacious pressure and a controlled approach with the ball, the ‘Cats forced 11 turnovers, including 9 steals, and only gave the ball away 6 times themselves. The Musketeers, led by their big man off the bench RaShid Gaston who scored 23, were hindered by a poor performance from the foul line going just 9-17.

When asked about his 500th win after the game, Jay Wright, in his typically humble fashion, said that what meant more to him than the milestone was the fact that “my wife Patty and I can be at Villanova,” citing it as “a great place to coach.” Now firmly in control of their quest for a fourth straight Big East regular season championship, the Cats will head to Chicago to battle DePaul on Monday.