Eric Paschall scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half to lead defending national champion Villanova to a 77-58 win over Oklahoma State on Friday in an AdvoCare Invitational semifinal at Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Villanova (4-2) also got 20 points and five assists from senior guard Phil Booth, the only returning starter from last season’s team that won it all and then had four players selected among the top 33 picks in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Wildcats sophomore Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree added a game-high 13 rebounds while scoring nine points.
Villanova will face either Florida State or LSU in Sunday’s title game.
Paschall, a fifth-year senior who played on two national champion Wildcats teams in the past three years, entered Friday’s game in a shooting slump - 37.7 percent from the field and 17.4 percent on three-pointers.
But Paschall was red hot in Friday’s first half, nailing 7 of 8 shots from the floor, including 6 of 7 on three-pointers. He finished 8 of 13 and 8 of 10, respectively.
This has been a good tournament so far for the Wildcats, who earlier this season were routed by Michigan and lost in overtime in an upset to Furman. That setback knocked Villanova out of the Top 25 for the first time since December 2013.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma State (3-2) was led by the only senior on its roster, Mike Cunningham, a graduate transfer from USC Upstate who scored 15 points off the bench.
Villanova never trailed. Paschall made the first shot of the game - a three-pointer assisted by Booth - and that set the tone.
At halftime, the Wildcats led 42-26, thanks to 48.4 shooting from the floor, including 10 of 24 on three-pointers (41.7 percent).
The Cowboys shot just 38.5 percent, including 3-of-10 on three-pointers.
That first half doomed a Cowboys’ team that lost four of their top five scorers from last season, when they knocked off four top-10 teams and reached the third round of the NIT.
Oklahoma State made a slight run in the second half, closing its deficit to 69-56 with 3:07 left. But that was as close as they got the rest of the way.
—Field Level Media