Instant Replay: No. 3 Villanova 79, No. 15 Xavier 54

Instant Replay: No. 3 Villanova 79, No. 15 Xavier 54

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, Pa. — No. 3 Villanova, which trailed by eight early, closed the first half on an 18-4 run and rolled to a 79-54 win over No. 15 Xavier in a showdown at the Pavilion on Tuesday night between two nationally ranked Big East teams.

The Wildcats outscored Xavier 12-5 to open the second half to make it a 30-9 run over 11½ minutes and turn an eight-point deficit into a 13-point lead.

Xavier had won six straight games since losses at Colorado and Baylor.

‘Nova missed 14 of its first 20 shots and trailed by eight points at 24-16 with 6½ minutes to go in the first half before seniors Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins and sophomore Jalen Brunson combined to score 15 of Villanova’s next 18 points.

Xavier missed 11 straight shots late in the first half and missed 21 of 25 over a 20-minute span from five minutes into the first half to five minutes into the second half.

Villanova led by as many as 29 points late in the game.

Turning point
With Xavier holding its eight-point lead and 6½ minutes left before halftime, Villanova ratcheted up the defense and held the Musketeers scoreless for the next 5½ minutes.

Xavier missed 11 straight shots during that span, and by the time it scored again, Villanova had the lead for good.

The Kris and Josh show
Jenkins led Villanova with 20 points and six rebounds and Hart added 20 points, five assists and six boards. Brunson added 11 points and six assists with no turnovers.

Redshirt freshman Donte DiVincenzo registered 10 points, four rebounds and three assists in a career-high 31 minutes off the bench, and Darryl Reynolds shot 5 for 6 for 10 points with three rebounds.

What it means
With the win, Villanova improved to 16-1 overall and 4-1 in the Big East. Xavier fell to 13-3 overall and 3-1 in the Big East.

The win extended Villanova’s winning streak in its on-campus facility to 46 in a row since a 55-52 loss to Providence on Feb. 3, 2013. The 46 consecutive wins ties the program’s longest winning streak in the building, set from 2007 through 2011.

Stat of the day
Xavier made five of its first 10 shots from three and then missed 10 in a row and 21 of 22 the rest of the game.

By the numbers
J.P. Macura (10), Edmond Sumner (11) and Trevon Bluiett (10) reached double figures in scoring for the Musketeers but combined to shoot 9 for 35. … After making six of its first nine shots, Xavier went 11 for 50 the rest of the way. … Villanova opened up 6 for 20 from the field but shot 22 for 32 the rest of the way, including 17 for 25 in the second half. … Villanova now leads the all-time series 23-5.

What’s next?
Villanova travels to New York Saturday for a noon game against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. The Wildcats’ next home game is next Monday back at the Pavilion against Seton Hall.

Drexel's Chris Crawford soaks up tradition at U.S. Open

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Drexel's Chris Crawford soaks up tradition at U.S. Open

ERIN, Wis. — The U.S. Open is all about tradition. This week is the 117th playing of golf's national championship and this event more than most celebrates those golfers who play the game as amateurs. 

Soon-to-be Drexel graduate Chris Crawford has been soaking up all the traditions this week at Erin Hills. Playing in his second U.S. Open after qualifying through both local and sectional competition for the second straight year, an extremely difficult feat, the 23-year-old fifth-year senior enjoyed the amateur dinner put on by the tournament organizers with the USGA. Crawford and his fellow amateurs, a stout list including Texas' Scottie Scheffler, who shot 3-under Thursday to seize the early low amateur lead, were celebrated the entire evening — one of Crawford's early highlights in a long week here in Wisconsin. 

Crawford produced a 3-over par 75 Thursday during the first round to tie for 102nd out of a field of 156 players.

"I played OK (Thursday)," Crawford said. "I'm going to take more positives than negatives out of the round. I played really well for 14 holes and just had a few bad swings on the other four holes."

Indeed, Thursday morning started nervously for the former Drexel golf standout. On the opening par-5 first hole, he snap-hooked his drive into the weeds out of bounds to the left, resulting in a double bogey. Three holes later, he chipped one shot over the back of the fourth green and took another double-bogey, placing him 4-over through four holes. 

Although bogeys might keep many of us alive in our weekend matches, it doesn't cut it in a U.S. Open. Crawford responded well in the ensuing 14 holes, going 1-under in that stretch.

Crawford's coach Mike Dynda, who teaches him at LuLu Country Club in Glenside, Pennsylvania, said he makes a big point to prepare Crawford's mind for his big rounds.

"I texted him last night and said, 'When you got to sleep, imagine that you're on the 18th hole and you have a putt for 9-under,'" Dynda said. "It's important to go to sleep and dream like that."

On the other side, Dynda — who taught the golf team at Drexel from 2003-2015 — also told his pupil to stay away from expectations. When you're 23 and you're playing in your second consecutive U.S. Open, one might think it would be easy to get ahead of yourself. Not so with Crawford, according to Dynda.

"I've taught him to not have any expectations for the five years we've been together," Dynda said. 

Crawford had a superstar practice round on Monday, playing with Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk and Wisconsin's own Steve Stricker.

"It was a lot of fun playing with those guys and just watching them strategize about learning a brand new U.S. Open course," Crawford said. "I think that's the biggest thing I was impressed with, was the way they talked about strategy on this golf course.

"They were all very nice with me and were very specific to ask about me and they wanted to learn a little bit about my life, so I appreciated that."

For Dynda, talking with Furyk brought back a fond memory. Furyk's father, Mike, actually sold Dynda his first set of golf clubs, Tommy Armor 845s, back in Philadelphia years ago. 

With one round in the books and the forecast calling for rain this weekend, Crawford was looking forward to having the proper mentality as he headed into Friday's second round.

"I want to go out there and just not get ahead of myself," Crawford said. "I'm going to think positively and appreciate that I'm playing in the national open."

Crawford teed off at 2:31 p.m. local time off of the 10th hole.

"This week is so cool because I never do something like this," Crawford said. "Playing in front of such large crowds is a treat and I just love the interaction with the fans before and after the rounds as well."

Last year at Oakmont, dozens of friends and family made the drive down the turnpike to see him play in his first U.S. Open. This year, Crawford estimates that he has around 15 friends and family out in the galleries cheering him on. Though coach Dynda caddied last year, those duties have gone to current Drexel golf coach Ben Feld.

It's a party this week of Drexel golf proportions.

Atlantic 10 reveals 2017-18 schedule pairings

Atlantic 10 reveals 2017-18 schedule pairings

Philadelphia basketball fans will be getting a double dip of one of the Atlantic 10 conference's best rivalries once again next season.

With the league's 18-game regular season format in place for a fourth straight year, it was revealed Wednesday afternoon that Saint Joseph's and La Salle will battle twice — once in North Philly at Tom Gola Arena and a second time at the Hawks' home just off City Line Avenue. Each team in the 14-member conference will play eight teams once and five teams twice.

The full pairings for the Explorers and Saint Joe's are listed here:

La Salle
Home: Dayton, George Mason, St. Bonaventure, VCU, Fordham, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis
Away: Davidson, Duquesne, George Washington, Richmond, Fordham, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis

Saint Joseph’s
Home: Dayton, Duquesne, Saint Louis, VCU, Fordham, George Mason, La Salle, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure
Away: Davidson, George Washington, Rhode Island, Richmond, Fordham, George Mason, La Salle, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure

It was also rumored earlier in the day that the Hawks have added a Big Five matchup at Temple for Dec. 9.