Prudential Center — Villanova’s coach Jay Wright knows that this season will be filled with a lot of highs and lows with his young team.
The days of Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth, Donte, DiVincenzo, and Eric Paschall coming in crunch time for the Wildcats all long in the past.
The newly fond roster is finding ways to play hard and win hard tough games.
Forward Jermaine Samuels scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half and the Wildcats won its season-high fourth straight game by getting double-digit performances by five players to hold off Delaware 78-70 on Saturday in the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
“It does boost their morale,” Wright said of sharing the scoring load. “Guys like to score. That’s one of the things we like to teach a young team — don’t evaluate yourselves on whether you score. So when five guys score they’re all happy. Guys like to score. It’s a normal human characteristic. They’re feeling good right now. ”
Justin Moore came off the bench to score 16 points, Saddiq Bey had 13 points, Cole Swider 12 and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 10 as the Wildcats (8-2) beat the Blue Hens (9-2) for the 15th straight time.
Delaware Nate Darling scored 29 points, Kevin Anderson chipped in 14 points, while Justyn Mutts had eight points and 11 boards.
“We had epic battles when Mike Brey was there,” Wright of the former Delaware coach who is now at Notre Dame. “I always remember those games. They’re really intelligent defensively, to Martin’s credit.”
Darling kept the Blue Hens in the game, he was 10 of 19 from the field, hit a long 3-pointer with 13:15 left in the contest to get Delaware within one 47-46 and gave Villanova a scare.
Collin Gillespie played a vital role off the bench who had seven points, hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 52-46.
The Blue Hens gave the Wildcats gave them everything but never got closer than three points for the rest of the game as the Wildcats sprinted out to a 10-point lead in the final minutes of play.
” Do think we played well on a big stage,” Ingelsby said. “We went for it. We were fearless. A testament to Villanova, they made winning plays and their free throws. I thought when we had it to three points we could put a little game pressure on them and get it tied or take the lead, and they made some plays. We could never get it to a one- or two-point game.”
The Wildcats hit 9 of its first 12 shots opening up in a game for a 22-10 lead and looked like it was going to be a blowout. Villanova made only six baskets the rest of the half, taking a 37-32 lead. The Wildcats became jump shot happy which enable the Blue Hens to creep closer.
Darling and Anderson kept Delaware in striking distance, scoring 11 and nine points, respectively. But just came up a little short in the final minutes of play.
Delaware: Hosts Delaware State on Monday night.
Villanova: Hosts No. 2 Kansas on Saturday in a Big East-Big Ten matchup.