DEPAUL
NOVA

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National champion Villanova rallies past DePaul, 73-68

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) The upset threat is always in play this season against Villanova. The national champions have been stunned and stymied by teams they might have squashed over the last 10 years.

DePaul played for 32 minutes like it might be the latest longshot to knock off the Wildcats.

But DePaul is DePaul for a reason and Villanova - even in a season where departures have stunted their dominance - is still not going down to the Blue Demons.

Eric Paschall scored 24 points and Phil Booth connected in the clutch to lead Villanova to its 17th straight win over DePaul, 73-68 on Wednesday night.

''We've got a resilient group,'' Booth said. ''We've been down a lot this year.''

Yes, the Wildcats indeed were resilient and rallied from a 14-point hole to boost coach Jay Wright's career mark against the Blue Demons to 19-2. But can they survive those deficits against the top teams in the Big East for the rest of the season?

''It's what the Big East is going to be like this year,'' Wright said.

Villanova's national championship banner hangs above the court and the Big East Tournament trophy sparkles in a display case. But lost in the celebration of the 2018 accolades was the fact that Villanova failed to win the Big East regular-season crown for the first time since 2013. Xavier snapped the four-year run of Villanova's romp through the conference - and the Wildcats aren't playing this season much like a team capable of reclaiming their crown.

''I think there's a lot of teams that could be anywhere from one to five and that same team could be five to 10,'' Wright said. ''And we're one of them.''

Booth, star of two national title teams, at least gives the Wildcats a shot at the Big East. He shook off a slow start and buried a 3 with 7:54 left for Villanova's first lead of the game, 58-56. Booth was fouled on a 3-point attempt and sank all three from the free-throw line to make it 63-59. Booth added another 3 late to keep the cushion at six and preserve the victory.

Booth and Saddiq Bey had 15 points. The Wildcats made 11 of 32 3-pointers.

The national champion Wildcats (10-4) won their Big East opener and haven't lost to the Blue Demons since Jan. 3, 2008. The Blue Demons have failed to make an NCAA Tournament over that span while the Wildcats have ascended to the rare air of top programs in the country over the last 11 years.

Eli Cain willed DePaul (8-5, 0-2) to an early lead with 14 points in the first half and wilted in the second when he scored only two. Max Strus also scored 16 points for DePaul.

''We don't have a background of success over a period of time that understands what those moments need and call for,'' DePaul coach Dave Leitao said.

The Blue Demons led 30-16 and the Wildcats were again rattled in their $65 million renovated home court. Michigan and Furman sent Villanova to consecutive home losses. The Wildcats were also upset by Penn just down the interstate at the Palestra.

The Wildcats were expected to experience a transition season after losing four players from the title team to the NBA. But the hardships have been greater than expected. Wright has shortened his rotation and played five players for at least 16 minutes in the first half. The Wildcats have always used 3-point bursts to slice leads and got them late from Paschall, Bey and Jahvon Quinerly that pulled them to 38-34 at the half.

Paschall and Booth bailed out the Wildcats in the second half.

''These two keep everyone together. They are our rocks out there,'' Wright said.

BIG PICTURE

DePaul: Cain moved into 20th place on DePaul's career scoring list. The Blue Demons have lost three straight games.

Villanova: Looked rusty following a 10-day break. Guard Collin Gillespie returned after a one-game absence with a head injury.

BALL CONTROL

The Blue Demons had 18 turnovers.

UP NEXT

DePaul hosts Seton Hall on Sunday.

Villanova plays Saturday at Providence.

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Key Players
M. Strus
31 G
E. Paschall
4 F
33.5 Min. Per Game 33.5
15.2 Pts. Per Game 15.2
2.2 Ast. Per Game 2.2
5.6 Reb. Per Game 5.6
42.1 Field Goal % 44.2
35.1 Three Point % 38.6
73.9 Free Throw % 77.0
  Defensive rebound by Collin Gillespie 0.0
  Devin Gage missed 3-pt. jump shot 0.0
+ 1 Phil Booth made 2nd of 2 free throws 6.0
+ 1 Phil Booth made 1st of 2 free throws 6.0
  Personal foul on Femi Olujobi 6.0
  Defensive rebound by Villanova 6.0
  Max Strus missed 3-pt. jump shot 8.0
  Defensive rebound by Paul Reed 18.0
  Saddiq Bey missed jump shot 20.0
+ 2 Eli Cain made driving layup 52.0
  Defensive rebound by Max Strus 58.0
Team Stats
Points 68 73
Field Goals 28-53 (52.8%) 23-55 (41.8%)
3-Pointers 8-20 (40.0%) 11-32 (34.4%)
Free Throws 4-6 (66.7%) 16-18 (88.9%)
Total Rebounds 36 24
Offensive 7 5
Defensive 27 15
Team 2 4
Assists 17 14
Steals 3 8
Blocks 2 1
Turnovers 18 6
Fouls 16 13
Technicals 0 0
16 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST
24 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST
12T
away team logo DePaul 8-5 383068
home team logo Villanova 10-4 343973
Team Stats
away team logo DePaul 8-5 76.9 PPG 40.6 RPG 14.6 APG
home team logo Villanova 10-4 74.5 PPG 38.2 RPG 14.3 APG
Key Players
31
M. Strus G 18.8 PPG 6.0 RPG 2.4 APG 42.1 FG%
4
E. Paschall F 16.5 PPG 6.2 RPG 2.2 APG 45.0 FG%
Top Scorers
M. Strus G 16 PTS 8 REB 3 AST
E. Paschall F 24 PTS 6 REB 2 AST
52.8 FG% 41.8
40.0 3PT FG% 34.4
66.7 FT% 88.9
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
E. Cain 16 4 3 6/10 4/7 0/0 3 39 1 0 6 0 4
M. Strus 16 8 3 5/16 4/10 2/3 3 39 0 1 4 2 6
D. Gage 10 6 5 5/9 0/2 0/1 1 38 1 1 3 0 6
P. Reed 8 5 2 4/5 0/0 0/0 2 20 1 0 1 1 4
J. Butz 6 6 3 3/5 0/0 0/0 4 33 0 0 1 2 4
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
E. Cain 16 4 3 6/10 4/7 0/0 3 39 1 0 6 0 4
M. Strus 16 8 3 5/16 4/10 2/3 3 39 0 1 4 2 6
D. Gage 10 6 5 5/9 0/2 0/1 1 38 1 1 3 0 6
P. Reed 8 5 2 4/5 0/0 0/0 2 20 1 0 1 1 4
J. Butz 6 6 3 3/5 0/0 0/0 4 33 0 0 1 2 4
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
F. Olujobi 12 4 0 5/7 0/0 2/2 3 23 0 0 1 2 2
L. Shreiner 0 1 1 0/1 0/1 0/0 0 8 0 0 2 0 1
J. Coleman-Lands - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Hall - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Malonga - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Xidias - - - - - - - - - - - - -
F. Cameron - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Maslennikov - - - - - - - - - - - - -
M. Sullivan - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Ozanne - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Diener - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 68 34 17 28/53 8/20 4/6 16 200 3 2 18 7 27
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
E. Paschall 24 6 2 6/13 4/8 8/8 1 37 0 0 0 2 4
P. Booth 15 4 6 3/9 3/7 6/7 1 38 2 0 1 0 4
C. Gillespie 6 1 1 3/9 0/5 0/0 4 25 2 0 2 0 1
J. Cremo 5 2 0 2/5 1/4 0/0 2 18 1 0 2 1 1
D. Cosby-Roundtree 3 3 0 1/2 0/0 1/2 1 29 1 1 0 2 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
E. Paschall 24 6 2 6/13 4/8 8/8 1 37 0 0 0 2 4
P. Booth 15 4 6 3/9 3/7 6/7 1 38 2 0 1 0 4
C. Gillespie 6 1 1 3/9 0/5 0/0 4 25 2 0 2 0 1
J. Cremo 5 2 0 2/5 1/4 0/0 2 18 1 0 2 1 1
D. Cosby-Roundtree 3 3 0 1/2 0/0 1/2 1 29 1 1 0 2 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
S. Bey 15 3 2 6/11 2/5 1/1 3 36 1 0 1 0 3
J. Quinerly 5 1 3 2/6 1/3 0/0 1 17 1 0 0 0 1
T. Delaney - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Samuels - - - - - - - - - - - - -
P. Heck - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Swider - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Saunders - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Slater - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 73 20 14 23/55 11/32 16/18 13 200 8 1 6 5 15