Saddiq Bey scored 22 points as the Wildcats defeated the Musketeers, 64-55, on Saturday afternoon to earn its fourth straight Big East win.
The victory brings the team record to 21-6, with a 10-4 record in conference play, and drops Xavier to 17-10 on the season, with a 6-8 record in conference play.
After losing three straight games in the beginning of February, the ‘Cats have reverted back to mid-season form, winning three road games in its four game stretch.
Along with Bey’s team-high 22 points, Jermaine Samuels added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Justin Moore finished with 13 points. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had four points and a team-high 12 rebounds.
Whereas a potent three-point offense was key for the ‘Cats in its last win over DePaul, defense was the turning point in Saturday’s contest. ‘Nova held Xavier to 55 points, its season low scoring total. The Musketeers shot 35.7% from the floor, and 25% from beyond the arc.
Slow offense was a factor for both teams in the first five minutes of the game, as a three-pointer from Moore gave Villanova a 7-2 lead at the 14:59 mark. Xavier missed fifteen of its first 20 shots, and was held scoreless for the last 4:18 of the first half, giving the ‘Cats a 30-21 lead going into halftime.
A dunk and a three-point shot from Bey extended the lead to 14 at the 15:35 mark in the second half, making the score 40-26. Xavier went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to six with 12:54 remaining, but the momentum was cut short following a lay-up and three-pointer made by Samuels to extend the lead back to 14, 53-39.
Tyrique Jones finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, securing his ninth straight double-double. Naji Marshall added 15 points, and Paul Scruggs scored ten.
Xavier, who has the league’s best three-point defense, limited the ‘Cats to just 24.1% from beyond the arc, despite hitting 18 three-pointers (69.2%) in its last contest. Villanova outscored the Musketeers in the paint, 32-30.
Up next, the ‘Cats return to the Finneran Pavilion after a three-game road stretch to host St. John’s on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 6:30 pm.