No. 7 Villanova hammers La Salle

Collin Gillespie totaled 13 points, six rebounds and five assists as seventh-ranked Villanova never trailed and cruised to a 72-46 rout over Big 5 foe LaSalle on Sunday night at the Palestra in Philadelphia.

The Wildcats began a week where they play two other Big 5 teams (Penn and St. Joseph’s) by scoring the game’s first nine points and leading by 20-plus points for the final 27 1/2 minutes.

Gillespie shot 4 of 10 as the Wildcats (4-2) bounced back from last week’s loss to Purdue with a dominant showing and won its first appearance at the Palestra since a three-point loss to Penn in Dec. 2018.

Brandon Slater added 12 and five rebounds while Eric Dixon and Caleb Daniels contributed 11 apiece as Villanova shot 43.1 percent and made 35.5 percent (11 of 31) of its 3-pointers. Dixon also grabbed eight rebounds as Villanova controlled the glass by a commanding 50-30 margin.

The Wildcats also improved to 21-5 at the Palestra under coach Jay Wright, who is 18-2 all-time against the Explorers. Villanova also beat LaSalle for the sixth time in as many meetings at the Palestra under Wright.

Khalil Brantley scored 17 points as LaSalle (2-3) shot a dreadful 25.5 percent and misfired on 15 of 21 3-point tries. Jhamir Brickus added 13 for the Explorers, whose other two losses this season went to overtime.

After Gillespie’s jumper gave Villanova a 9-0 lead a little over four minutes in, the Wildcats later ripped off 21 straight points and extended their lead to 39-9 on a layup by Slater with 4:23 remaining. Villanova held a 42-17 lead by halftime after another basket by Slater and took a 55-23 lead on a 3-pointer by Chris Arcidiacono with 16:08 to go.