Hot-shooting Villanova beats Xavier for 6th straight win
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Phil Booth scored 22 points, Collin Gillespie added 18 and No. 22 Villanova beat Xavier 85-75 on Friday night for its sixth straight win.
Eric Paschall added 17 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (14-4, 5-0 Big East), who shot 50 percent from the field and made 15 3-pointers to remain the only unbeaten team in the conference.
Tyrique Jones led Xavier (11-8, 3-3) with 21 points and 12 rebounds while Naji Marshall scored 15. The Musketeers were coming off come-from-behind wins over Georgetown and Butler.
Trailing by 11 early in the second half, Xavier went on an 8-0 run, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Marshall and Ryan Welage, and pulled within one on Paul Scruggs’ 3 with 10:56 remaining.
Booth and Jermaine Samuels combined for the next eight points, with Booth hitting a 3-pointer that bounced high off the rim and dropped through the net. Gillespie helped seal the win with his third 3-pointer of the half to put Villanova up 67-55 with six minutes left.
Gillespie shot 6 for 10 from 3-point range while Booth, who’s scored at least 20 points in each of his last four games, made 5 of 9 attempts from behind the arc.
The first half was a study in contrasting styles as all but three of Xavier’s points came in the paint while Villanova made eight 3-pointers on 18 attempts. Zach Hankins, a 6-foot-11 graduate transfer from Ferris State who was the 2018 NABC Division II Player of the Year, paced Xavier with all 12 of his points before the break.
The Wildcats were missing an inside presence as the team announced before the game that 6-9 freshman Cole Swider will be sidelined indefinitely after fracturing a bone in his right hand during practice on Thursday.
Xavier: The Musketeers, who edged ’Nova for the 2018 Big East regular-season title, now have as many losses in the league as they did all of last season. They are winless against Villanova on the road in six tries since the inaugural season of the reconfigured Big East in 2013-14.
Villanova: Chasing their fifth Big East regular-season championship in six years, the Wildcats moved a full game ahead of second-place Marquette. They returned to the AP Top 25 this week for the first time since mid-December.
Xavier hosts Providence on Wednesday night.
Villanova visits Butler on Tuesday night.
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