NEW YORK, Sporting Alert – Mikal Bridges scored a career-high 28 points and Phil Booth added 20 as No. 4 Villanova beat No. 12 Gonzaga 88-72 on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“We played well through foul trouble because we had great leadership from Jalen [Brunson], Mikal and Phil,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
“They are great leaders, and they got our guys ready to play. It was a good win for us.”
Bridges, who was scoring in double-figures for the eighth straight game, shot 8 of 14 from the floor, including five 3-pointers, while grabbing six rebounds and two blocks in the win.
“A lot of great things have happened in this building. It’s a great feeling,” said Bridges.
“It’s a better feeling that we got a win, so we’re just going to get ready and prepare for La Salle on Sunday.”
Brunson had 12 points and Omari Spellman recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats (9-0).
Zach Norvell led Gonzaga with a career-high 22 points, while Josh Perkins had 16 points, five rebounds and five assists and Jacob Larsen scored 10 points for the Bulldogs (7-2), who were losing for the second time against a ranked team this season.
Gonzaga tied the game at 17-17 midway through the first half, but Villanova took over the contest afterward to take a double-digit lead into the interval.
The Wildcats took advantage of the Bulldogs’ ball handling problems to go on an 11-0 run and take a 28-17 lead with 6:50 remaining in the opening period.
After the game was locked at 17 with 10:48 left in the first half, Villanova used a 26-9 run to build a 43-30 advantage at the end of the first 20 minutes.
“They put it on us pretty good,” Zags coach Mark Few said.
Gonzaga turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and it cost them 10 points.
“The energy wasn’t there for us early for whatever reason,” added Few. “If you don’t have that energy, Villanova is the type of team that will make you pay.
“They controlled the tempo because of their talent, but we made our share of mistakes.”
The Cats stretched their lead to 15 points on a Bridges thunderous dunk with 8:13 left.
“He probably could have done more of this last year,” Wright said. “He’s the leader.
“He’s the captain. So he’s playing with a lot more freedom. Aggressiveness, as he says.”
Two of the Gonzaga’s key contributors and starters — Silas Melson and Johnathan Williams — fouled out with over than four minutes remaining.