EditorsNote: Clarifies stats in lead; adds Bryce Golden’s first name in graf 4; other minor edits
Jermaine Samuels tallied 20 points and seven rebounds, Saddiq Bey added 14 points and six boards, and Justin Moore chipped in 14 to lead No. 9 Villanova to a 76-61 victory over visiting No. 13 Butler in Big East Conference action on Tuesday night at Finneran Pavilion.
The Wildcats, winners of 11 of their last 12 games, including five in a row, shot 21-for-23 on free throws and dominated on the glass with 43 rebounds. The Wildcats (15-3, 5-1) shot 9-for-25 on 3-pointers.
Butler, which won 15 of its first 16 games this season, has now dropped three consecutive conference games after shooting 25 percent (5-for-20) on 3-pointers against Villanova. The Bulldogs (15-4, 3-3) were led by Kamar Baldwin, who finished with 21 points.
The Wildcats raised their lead to 43-26 on consecutive 3-pointers and a free throw by Bey in the opening minute of the second half. The Bulldogs used a 9-2 run to slice the deficit to 45-35 following a Bryce Golden 3-pointer. Trailing 49-37, the Bulldogs fought back with an 8-0 run, highlighted by six straight points by Baldwin at the 11:20 mark.
Just like in the first half, the Wildcats answered with a run of their own, seizing a 56-45 lead after a Justin Moore 3-pointer with 9:03 remaining.
Samuels scored six points in a span of 1:15 to extend the lead to 62-49 with 4:18 left, while Moore hit four late free throws to seal the win.
The battle of highly ranked conference rivals started off with a number of first-half runs. The Bulldogs broke out to an 8-2 lead, but the Wildcats answered with a 10-0 run to take a 12-8 edge on a jumper by Samuels. The Bulldogs clawed back from a nine-point hole when Golden scored on a layup to lower the gap to 27-24 with 4:33 left.
The Wildcats scored five straight points to regain control of the game, then held the Bulldogs scoreless in the final 2:01 to build a 36-26 lead at halftime. The Wildcats shot 6-for-17 on 3-pointers and dominated the boards with a 24-16 advantage in the opening half.
—Field Level Media