Villanova Wildcats opened their season as the defending champions for the second time in three years. The quest to repeat began against Morgan State who they handled easily at home in the new look Pavillion.
The No. 9 Wildcats had a new look themselves as they unveiled some new pieces. Freshman forward Saddiq Bey was a key contributor, dropping 16 points on 5-8 shooting, while highly touted guard Jahvon Quinerly had a quieter night with 3 points in 17 minutes of action.
Familiar faces Eric Paschall and Phil Booth paced Villanova in scoring with 26 points and 17 points, respectively. The duo was crucial in helping Nova bounce back from a slow start where they had little rhythm and committed their fair share of sloppy turnovers.
“It’s not going to be pretty sometimes but we’ll get better” explained Head Coach Jay Wright after the game when he referenced having four freshman on the court in certain situations. Coach Wright gave credit to Morgan State for causing Nova’s offense to surrender 14 points off turnovers in the first half as he stated, “Our offense was killing us on the defensive end, so give them credit.”
Villanova will use the early part of the season to grow chemistry after losing four key players to the NBA, including AP Player of the Year Jalen Brunson (Mavericks), Mikal Bridges (Suns), Omari Spellman (Hawks) and Donte DiVincenzo (Bucks).
Senior guard Eric Paschall touched on this after the game when he said; “I try to take a lot of responsibilities, obviously I had a lot of greats. I try to take what they taught me and keep giving that to the young guys”.
Next up, Villanova will face off against Quinnipiac on Saturday. After that the real challenges began when they play Michigan.
Morgan State looks to bounce back with a match-up against St. Francis tomorrow.