Phil Booth hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 7:58 remaining, and Villanova made enough plays down the stretch to open its Big East schedule with a 73-68 victory over visiting DePaul on Wednesday.
Villanova (9-4, 1-0 Big East) did not get the lead until Booth knocked down a 3-pointer from well behind the arc to put the Wildcats up 58-56. The Wildcats took a 69-63 lead on another 3-pointer by Booth with 3:56 left but sweated out the final minute.
DePaul was within 71-68 when Eli Cain hit a layup 52 seconds remaining. After Villanova’s Saddiq Bey had a jumper rim in and out of the hoop with 20 seconds left, DePaul’s Paul Reed grabbed the rebound.
After using their last timeout with 15 seconds left, the Blue Demons missed a chance to tie when Max Strus was off target on an off-balance 3-pointer with eight seconds left. Booth iced the game by hitting two free throws with six seconds left, and the game ended when DePaul’s Devin Gage missed a 3-point try at the buzzer.
Villanova beat DePaul for the 17th straight time, but it wasn’t easy, especially for Booth. The senior forward scored 12 of his 15 points after halftime as he shot 3 of 9 from the floor overall.
Eric Paschall led all scorers with 24 points while Bey added 15 for Villanova, which shot 41.8 percent from the field.
Cain scored 16 points for DePaul but did not score in the second half until his layup in the final minute. Strus scored all 16 of his points in the second half for the Blue Demons (8-5, 0-2). DePaul shot 52.8 percent from the field.
The Wildcats had a big edge at the foul line, making 16 of 18 attempts to the Blue Demons’ 4 of 6.
DePaul started quickly and bolted to a 30-16 lead on a 3-pointer by Cain with 10:22 remaining in the half. Villanova came back with an 18-4 run the rest of the half, and the deficit was down to 38-34 by halftime.
The Blue Demons rebounded from the rough finish to the opening 20 minutes and took a 53-45 lead on two free throws by Strus with 11:04 left. Less than a minute later, Villanova was within 53-51 when Paschall buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key. A few minutes later, Booth hit the go-ahead 3-pointer.
—Field Level Media