VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Villanova reached a rare low moment in coach Jay Wright’s 11 seasons with a 17-point home loss to South Florida on Thursday.

The Wildcats were all smiles following today”s home contest, though.

Maalik Wayns scored 21 points, Dominic Cheek added 20 and Villanova defeated DePaul 87-71 Sunday, snapping a three-game losing skid for the Wildcats.

“It definitely helps to win,” Wright said. “We knew maybe that we knocked ourselves back against South Florida. We’re still trying to get better and we will keep getting better.”

Mouphtaou Yarou had 14 and JayVaughn Pinkston 13 for Villanova (8-8, 1-3 Big East). The Wildcats had lost their first three conference games — to West Virginia, Marquette and South Florida — for the first time since joining the Big East in 1980-81.

Thursday’s 74-57 loss to South Florida was especially unusual, considering that Villanova had won 51 of its last 52 at The Pavilion, its on-campus arena.

Today, though, Villanova shot 63 percent in the first half, built a 48-36 lead and cruised to its first league victory despite committing a season-high 28 turnovers.

“It takes some time and it’s starting to come around for us,” Wayns said. “I think everyone is adjusting well and everyone is going to keep getting better.”

DePaul (10-5, 1-2) entered this game with a rare Big East victory, 84-81 over Pittsburgh Thursday. The Blue Demons are 3-54 all-time in league play.

Brandon Young led DePaul with 22 points. Cleveland Melvin added 19 for the Blue Demons.

After a five-game winning streak, DePaul has dropped two of its last three.

“In this league, you just try to survive,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “They survived today and got the win, which was important for them. We’ve just got to play better.”

Following a stale performance against the South Florida Bulls it its last game, Villanova came out with more energy in an early start on this day. In that loss to USF, Villanova was outrebounded 38-26, its largest deficit of the season.

But the Wildcats were aggressive from the opening tip in this one, and won for the fourth straight time over DePaul.

Villanova’s lead swelled to 78-61 with 5:51 remaining and the Blue Demons never got within double figures the rest of the game. The Wildcats also outrebounded DePaul 45-23.

The Wildcats’ offensive output was their highest since scoring 106 on opening night (Nov. 11) in a 36-point rout of Monmouth (N.J.).

“They’ve got good players and can shoot the ball,” Purnell said. “They got too many layups and second shots. With that, your percentages are going to go up.”

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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