ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — First, Daniel Ochefu made a jumper. Then Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono each converted a layup, and Arcidiacono connected on a 3-pointer.
One after another, the shots kept going in for Villanova in the second half.
Arcidiacono scored 23 points and the Wildcats put together an impressive shooting display to pull away for a 94-71 victory at DePaul on Tuesday night.
“That was our best game,” coach Jay Wright said. “We played really well.”
Hilliard had 17 points and James Bell finished with 16 for the Wildcats (14-9, 5-5 Big East), who bounced back from a pair of disappointing losses to Notre Dame and Providence. Villanova made 22 of 32 shots in the second half and shot a season-high 60 percent from the field for the game.
“Honestly, we were just trying to make plays for each other,” Arcidiacono said. “Just getting into the paint, jump-stopping, and then we just tried to find each other. Everyone, we made extra passes. We didn’t make those extra passes against Providence.”
Villanova shot 28 percent in Sunday’s 55-52 home loss against the Friars, who got a winning 3-pointer from Bryce Cotton with 2.2 seconds left. The Wildcats missed all seven of their 3-point attempts in the second half and committed 18 turnovers in one of their worst performances of the season.
Two days later, it was a completely different story.
“We played Providence on Sunday, and they pressed us the whole game and we didn’t handle it well,” Wright said. “And then you come back, so you look at the film and we practiced Monday and practiced not handling the press well. Then we come and get pressed and we do a good job.
“If you give us do-overs, we’re good. But first time around, we haven’t been great.”
Arcidiacono helped the Wildcats grab control after the teams were tied at 40 at the break. The freshman guard scored five points in an 11-3 run that made it 51-43 with 17:45 left.
The Wildcats poured it on from there, making 11 of their first 12 shots in the second half to run the lead out to 12. A 3-pointer from Bell sparked a 14-2 spree that stretched the advantage to 85-60 with 4:49 left.
“Villanova came out and attacked us the second half,” said Cleveland Melvin, who led the Blue Demons with 19 points. “We just got to do a better job of keeping a hard edge.”
Jamee Crockett had 16 for DePaul (10-12, 1-8), which has dropped seven straight games. The Blue Demons were coming off a pair of overtime losses against St. John’s and Notre Dame. DePaul shot 45 percent from the field and was outrebounded 33-27.
The Wildcats shot 10 for 18 from 3-point range and placed six players in double figures. Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston each scored 11, and Tony Chennault had 10 points.
“When Villanova shoots the 3-ball pretty decently, they’re tough to handle,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. “And we didn’t take that away from them.”
With both teams in desperate need of a win, the Blue Demons and Wildcats played a roller-coaster first half that included a handful of spurts for each side.
Moses Morgan hit a free throw with 4:02 left to give DePaul a 30-28 lead, but Villanova then scored nine of the next 12 points. Chennault and Yarou each hit a pair of free throws, Hilliard slashed to the hoop for a nice layup and Arcidiacono capped the surge with a 3-pointer that made it 37-33 with 1:58 to go.
Melvin responded with the last seven points of the half, including a tying layup with 17 seconds remaining. The 6-foot-8 junior had a game-high 13 points at the break.
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