No. 7 Villanova outworks Owls

The Wildcats topped Temple 85-62 to remain undefeated on the season.

RADNOR, Pa. — A Devontae Watson shot found the net and the Owls enjoyed their only lead of the game.

The No. 7 Wildcats surged past Temple shortly thereafter, reeling off a 15-2 run en route to a 85-62  win against Temple at the Pavilion Sunday.

Trailing by as many as 24 points, the Owls shot 28 percent from the field in the first half, and 34.6 for the game.

“We didn’t play hard enough,” Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. “We could have done a better job … there were some loose balls here and there that we needed to get to, they’re a talented group, they’ve got a really good basketball team.”

Despite shooting 28 percent from the field in the first half, the Owls found themselves within 13 points of the Wildcats.

While he struggled in the second half, freshman forward Obi Enechionyia had career highs in both points (10) and rebounds (six) to go along with three blocks.

While having a successful first half, the Springfield, Virginia native was held scoreless in the second half, ultimately fouling out of the game.

“I think I [struggled in the second half] because I could have worked harder,” Enechionyia said. “I don’t think I did enough to get open, some of it was added pressure, but I didn’t play as hard as I could have.”

Dunphy opted to keep his freshman forward on the bench to start the second half, opting for Watson, a junior forward, instead.

Enechionyia, who averaged roughly 16 minutes per game heading into the contest, saw an increase in minutes as a result of sophomore forward Mark Williams falling victim to foul trouble.

With Williams and sophomore guard Josh Brown both committing four fouls, Dunphy is eager to welcome senior guard Jesse Morgan and junior guard Devin Coleman back to the lineup after being ineligible for the first 10 games of the year due to transfer regulations.

“We’ll see how it goes for them, we’ll get them into [their first game] as quickly as we can,” Dunphy said. “We got into a little bit of foul trouble today,” Dunphy said. “We were a little bigger than I wanted to be at times because [Brown] was in foul trouble, [redshirt sophomore guard Daniel Dingle] was in foul trouble, it will be different. It will be interesting to see.”

The two guards will be eligible to play their first game against Delaware Thursday night. The Blue Hens are winless through their first seven games, and will host the Owls with an offense averaging 54.7 points per game, a mark that ranks No. 340 in Division I.

Villanova, which did not have a 20-point scorer through its first nine games, had two of them in the game.

Sophomore guard Josh Hart and senior guard Darrun Hilliard both tallied 20 points apiece. Hart, who made his first six shots of the game, converted three 3-pointers and tallied five rebounds with three assists.

Hart and Hilliard, who both shot 6 for 7 from the field, propelled Villanova to just shy of 53 percent shooting from the field, including a 60 percent mark from beyond the arc.

“It’s nice when a couple guys get it going,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I thought our team did a good job when Josh got it going to find him. Darrun is a guy who you don’t have to run plays for him … That was good for us to experience that as a team.”

Despite the lofty lead, the Owls outrebounded Villanova, 31-28.

For Wright, the importance of not overlooking the Owls was important in securing the win.

“They’re a tough team,” Wright said. “We were watching film on them … they’re just getting better and better each game and we knew we’d see a better team tonight. … They’re a very good defensive team and to score 85 points on them was good for us. We got beat up on the glass a little bit but in the second half we did a better job.”

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