Bridges perfect from 3, No. 5 Villanova blows out Lafayette
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon planned to switch defenses often in hopes of slowing down No. 5 Villanova.
It ended up not mattering what the Leopards did, not with the Wildcats shooting like this.
Mikal Bridges set a school record by hitting all six of his 3-point shots and scored a career-high 24 points in Villanova’s 104-57 rout Friday night.
Jalen Brunson added 22 points and hit 4 of 6 3s in another dominant performance by the Wildcats (3-0), who made 16 of 30 from long range.
“I don’t know if you shoot that way if you shoot with nobody in the gym,” O’Hanlon said. “And they didn’t hit the rim. They were all swishes. I don’t think they knew what defense we were in.”
Three nights after setting a school record with 13 blocked shots in a blowout of Nicholls, the versatile and deep Wildcats showed another strength and overwhelmed the Leopards (0-3).
Led by Bridges’ 4-of-4 long-distance shooting, Villanova hit 11 of its first 14 3s in racing to a 39-16 lead. The Wildcats had a stretch of nine straight baskets being 3s en route to a 56-23 halftime lead.
“Early you start thinking, if we fall in love with that and now we’re not making them, we’re going to be in trouble,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “But we kept making them. Then you’ve got a big lead and the basket looks huge.”
Bridges finished 9 of 10 from the field before he sat out the final 10 minutes. The junior bested his previous career-high by one point set Tuesday.
“He’s never lacked confidence, but he’s always played a complementary role and he’s always fine with that,” Wright said. “I think he’s really confident that it’s his time to be a leader on this team and be a really aggressive player.”
Matt Klinewski had 16 points and six rebounds for Lafayette, which was 7 of 29 from 3-point range.
While it was a Villanova home game, it was played about 50 miles from campus at the PPL Center, home of minor league hockey’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. It was a 20-mile drive for Lafayette, but the Wildcats sure seemed at home.
Villanova spent much of the second half going inside to score. Omari Spellman had 15 points and nine rebounds and Eric Paschall had 14 points and eight boards.
Bridges has made 18 of 29 shots in three games and the Wildcats have eclipsed 100 points two straight times.
“My teammates are finding me in the right spot,” Bridges said. “A lot of them have wide open shots and give me an extra pass. That’s what we do and that’s why I’m scoring.”
Lafayette: Try as a Patriot League school squaring off against one of the best teams in the nation and watching the opponent hit 9 of their first 11 3s, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s alma mater never had a chance.
Villanova: The Wildcats have perimeter shooting, depth inside and play good defense. They’ve been dominant against inferior competition, and will finally get tested next week.
SO MANY 3-POINTERS
Bridges surpassed Doug West in 1988 and John Celestand in 1999, each of whom went 5 of 5 from long range. Villanova finished one shy of the school record of 17 3s set against Lehigh on Nov. 27, 2005.
O’Hanlon fell to 0-6 against his alma mater. He still holds the Villanova record for assists in a game with 16 set against Toledo on Feb. 24, 1970.
Only six Division I coaches have been at their schools longer than O’Hanlon, in his 23rd season.
Lafayette visits Princeton on Wednesday.
Villanova faces Western Kentucky on Wednesday in the first of three games at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. No. 19 Purdue and No. 3 Arizona are possible opponents the following two days.