EditorsNote: revises second graf to reflect late scoring changes
Eric Paschall scored 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lift No. 9 Villanova past visiting Morgan State 100-77 in the season opener for both teams on Tuesday night.
Phil Booth added 17 points and Saddiq Bey scored 16 for the defending national champion Wildcats. Jermaine Samuels had 12 points and Joe Cremo contributed 10 in the Wildcats’ first career meeting against Morgan State.
The Wildcats, who played with four freshmen on the court at times, opened this season without four key players from last season’s team — guards Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson along with forwards Omari Spellman and Donte DiVincenzo.
Bridges, Spellman and DiVincenzo were all selected in the first round of the NBA draft, while Brunson went in the second round.
Isaiah Burke led Morgan State with 17 points, while Stanley Davis added 14 and Sherwyn Devonish-Prince Jr. contributed 13.
Paschall drove to the basket and scored in the final seconds before halftime to give Villanova a 54-43 advantage. Paschall hit all six shots from the field and finished with 19 points at the half.
Morgan State stayed close throughout the first half before Villanova, the highest-scoring team in the country last season, scored the final five points to lead by 11.
Davis’ layup early in the second half got the Bears within 61-50, and they later cut the lead to 64-57 with 12:36 left.
But Cremo followed with a 3-pointer from the wing to extend the Villanova lead back to 10 at 67-57. After a defensive stop, Paschall scored for a 12-point advantage at 69-57.
Paschall then knocked down five consecutive free throws on back-to-back trips and Booth hit a layup for a 76-57 lead to cap a 12-0 run.
Morgan State never posed a serious threat the rest of the game.
—Field Level Media