‘Cats open season with commanding win over Lafayette

Meaghan Bedigian

“And we’re back,” Kris Jenkins said with a grin walking into the press room after Villanova’s 88-48 win over Lafayette today at the Pavilion. Jenkins made Villanova fans nostalgic with a whopping 16 points, opening the game with a quick jumper in the first 1:04 of play.

It was clear Mikal Bridges practiced his shot this summer, matching Jenkin’s 16 points and adding 8 rebounds to the mix. Jalen Brunson was leading scorer of the game with 17 points, and along with Darryl Reynolds, Eric Paschall and Donte DiVincenzo, made the Wildcats a force to be reckoned with on defense with 7 rebounds each.

It was clear that Lafayette was playing a National Championship-winning team in the first half, only scoring 17 points to Villanova’s 49 and clocking in at a total of 12 airballs throughout the game.

“We were playing a different animal tonight,” Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon said.

The Panthers struggled to catch a rhythm throughout the 40 minutes of play, resulting in frantic plays and forced shots. They picked their game up in the second half scoring 31 points to ‘Nova’s 36, finally making the Wildcats play some defense and catching them off guard.

“Playing a game is the best thing we can do to get over last season,” Jay Wright said, acknowledging the dangers of the dreaded championship hangover.

Despite losing their edge in the second half, the ‘Cats looked good and happy to be back playing at home. Highlights include a Paschall dunk, riling up the crowd early on in the game, and how 4 out of 6 of Jenkin’s completed field goal attempts were three-pointers.

Catch the Wildcats back in action against Purdue this Monday at 7 p.m. in West Lafayette, Ind.