December 31, 2019 / 1:56 AM / 24 days ago

Gillespie, No. 10 Villanova hold off Xavier

EditorsNote: Corrects to Marshall scored six of Xavier’s next eight points in graf 15; other minor edits

Dec 30, 2019; Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (24) shoots a layup past Xavier Musketeers forward Zach Freemantle (32) during the first half at Finneran Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Collin Gillespie scored 24 points to lift No. 10 Villanova past visiting Xavier 68-62 in the Big East opener for both teams on Monday.

Jermaine Samuels added 14 points and eight rebounds while Justin Moore had 13 points for the Wildcats, who won their sixth in a row and improved to 10-2 overall.

Naji Marshall led Xavier with 19 points while Tyrique Jones added 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Scruggs had 12 points and six assists.

Xavier closed within 66-62 with 21 seconds remaining but ultimately fell short.

The Musketeers, who dropped to 11-3 and had their two-game winning streak snapped, finished 1 of 11 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Villanova used a 17-0 run to take a 21-8 lead with 10:01 left in the first half.

Marshall missed layups on consecutive possessions for Xavier, which started 5 of 16 from the floor in falling behind 23-11 with 8:40 left in the first half.

Gillespie knocked down a deep 3-pointer from the wing, and the Wildcats pulled ahead 26-13 with 6:34 left in the half.

Xavier closed within 28-19 when Quentin Goodin drove to the basket and scored with 3:43 remaining in the half.

Villanova was on top 32-25 at halftime thanks in large part to Gillespie’s eight points and five assists.

Marshall paced the Musketeers with nine first-half points, but the team missed all four 3-point attempts before intermission.

Both teams struggled to score early in the second half as Xavier closed within 33-29 before Moore scored on a layup and Samuels hit all three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-point try. The Wildcats led 38-29 with 16 minutes left.

Marshall made a difficult shot in the paint — his first field goal of the second half — to cut the gap to 42-35 with 12:23 remaining.

Moore then scored the next five points, capped by a 3-pointer, as Villanova went ahead 47-35 with 11:13 to play.

Then Marshall scored six of Xavier’s next eight points, which closed within 49-43 with 9:14 to go.

Villanova extended its advantage to 60-49 with 4:37 left following a trey by Gillespie.

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When Jones scored with 2:03 left, the Musketeers cut the deficit to 63-57.

On Villanova’s next possession, Samuels hit a short jumper, and the lead was pushed back to eight — too much for the Musketeers to overcome.

—Field Level Media

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