Wildcats pull away in second to defeat DePaul



Eugene Rapay

When Villanova and DePaul met ear- lier this season, the Wildcats’ hot start paved the way to victory. Their dominant 45-point first half performance set the pace for the rest of the game.

This time around, however, it was a strong second half that propelled Villano- va to victory.

Villanova outscored DePaul, 37-18, af- ter halftime, rallying around Ryan Arcidi- acono.

The junior guard had all of his 18 points in the second half as the Wildcats went on to win 68-55.

“In the second half, I just tried to be more aggressive catching the ball and shooting,” Arcidiacono said.

Once DePaul had to respect his jump shot, it opened up opportunities for him to drive to the basket.

Arcidiacono got the Wildcats back into the game when he knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 41-40, with 15:25 re- maining. He was fouled during the shot, and drained the subsequent free throw to tie the game. From there, Villanova would take the lead and never look back.

Seniors JayVaughn Pinkston and Dar- run Hilliard added solid performances. Pinkston finished with 14 points and five rebounds, while Hilliard chipped in 11 points and three steals.

Junior forward Daniel Ochefu did not light up the scoreboard, but made his pres- ence known in other ways – the junior cen- ter had seven points and 12 boards.

It was clear that DePaul came into the game better prepared than in their first matchup with the Wildcats. The Blue De- mons did not allow themselves to be beat- en from long range again. Villanova was held to 5-of-19 shooting from beyond the arc.

The Blue Demons paid close attention to perimeter, rapidly closing down on the Wildcats whenever someone received the ball. DePaul contested most of their shots, not giving away any easy looks.

On the other end of the court, the Blue Demons found success attacking the bas- ket and scoring in transition.

The Blue Demons connected on 10 of their first 15 shots, en route to a 26-17 lead.

They played inspired basketball, taking a 37-31 lead at halftime.

The Blue Demons were paced by their star point guard Billy Garrett Jr. He fin- ished with 14 points and eight assists. Gar- rett Jr. was the only player for DePaul to score in double figures.

The second half was a different story.

“In the second half, we settled down and focused on defense,” Pinkston said.

The Wildcats clamped down on the Blue Demons. DePaul sank 6-of-20 (30 per- cent) shots in the second half, after shoot- ing 52 percent in the first.

Villanova took away opportunities in transition and gave a stronger effort when defending their opponents. As they kept points off the board on one end of the court, Arcidiacono began to heat up.

The Wildcats’ veteran point guard scored eight of his team’s first 10 points to start the second half, tying the game at 41 after completing the four point play.

Moments later, sophomore guard Josh Hart grabbed an offensive rebound and sank a layup to give Villanova the lead. It was the Wildcats’ first lead since they were up 9-8 with 14:28 remaining in the first half.

Villanova started to slowly pull away from DePaul, before the Blue Devils fought back.

A three pointer by Tommy Hamilton IV made it 49-46 with 8:14 left in the game. However, that would be the closest that DePaul would ever get.

The Wildcats went on a 8-2 run, capped off by a vicious Ochefu dunk. Kris Jenkins fed the big man down low, who flushed it for two points to give Villanova its first double-digit lead of the game, 58-48.

From that point on, the ’Cats cruised to the finish line.

Arcidiacono added the final point of the game, making one of two foul shots in his final trip of the free throw line.

The Wildcats won the battle of the boards, outrebounding their opponents 35-18. They grabbed 11 offensive re- bounds, leading to a 16-0 edge in second chance points.

Unfortunately for the Blue Demons, they did not have much time to rest before heading into this game.

Their game against Providence was originally scheduled for Tuesday, before being postponed to Thursday due to in- clement weather.

“They caught a tough break by having to travel and play on Thursday,” Head Coach Jay Wright said. “We were at home watching that game while they were play- ing. We were off and may have been fresh- er in the second half because of it.”

The Wildcats improve to 19-2 overall and 6-2 in conference play.

Meanwhile, the DePaul Blue Demons fall to 11-12 and an even 5-5 record against Big East competition.