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RECAP: No. 4 Villanova Wildcats crushes Mount St. Mary’s

Mar 21, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright signals in the second half against the North Texas Mean Green in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright signals in the second half against the North Texas Mean Green in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Moore hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 27 points to lift No. 4 Villanova easily past Mount St. Mary’s 91-51 in the season opener for both programs on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Brandon Slater added a career-high 17 points, Jermaine Samuels also contributed 17 and Collin Gillespie had 13 for the Wildcats (1-0) in his return from a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee just before last year’s conference tournament.

Malik Jefferson led the Mountaineers (0-1) with 13 points and Nana Opoku added 11.

Villanova jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead and then extended it to 17-4 when Samuels drove to the basket and scored with 11:29 left in the first half.

Mount St. Mary’s struggled early against the Wildcats’ suffocating defense and trailed 22-7 before scoring six straight. The run was capped by Dakota Leffew’s three-point play with 8:22 remaining.

From there, Villanova went on an 11-0 spurt and pushed its advantage back to 20. Slater and Moore connected on consecutive 3-pointers for a 33-13 lead.

Villanova led 45-21 at halftime thanks in large part to Moore’s four 3-pointers and 17 points.

The Mountaineers didn’t have a player score more than five points and they committed nine turnovers.

Mount St. Mary’s scored the first six points of the second half, including a difficult 18-foot jumper by Jalen Benjamin.

Slater and Eric Dixon each hit two free throws, Caleb Daniels converted a layup and the Wildcats went ahead 51-27 with 16:23 remaining.

Leffew knocked down a jumper from the corner to close the Mountaineers within 56-31 with 13:40 to play.

Mezie Offurum soon threw down a two-handed dunk with 10:38 left and Mount St. Mary’s cut the deficit to 62-40.

Samuels responded with a jumper, Slater and Moore each added a trey as the Wildcats extended their lead to 30 with 9:02 remaining.

Slater’s fifth 3-pointer with 3:18 left gave the Wildcats a commanding 87-49 lead.

–Field Level Media