PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Jalen Brunson scored 18 points and No. 5 Villanova defeated Western Kentucky 66-58 in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Wednesday.
The teams started slowly and ended the first half 27-24 in favor of the Wildcats (4-0), who came alive after the break to shoot 63 percent in the second half and made 15 of 24 shots during that period to setup the victory.
“They usually play a little faster than that, but I think they were smart knowing they’ve got three days here,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
“They controlled the tempo. … Offensively they had us out of whack, and I think that had a lot to do with our poor shooting in the first half.”
Brunson made 7 of his 9 shots from the field in 35 minutes, while Mikal Bridges had 17 points, eight rebounds, five steals, three blocks and three assists in the win.
“We still have to get a lot better,” Brunson said. “We’re still a work in progress.”
Donte DiVincenzo scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half off the bench for Villanova, which led by as many as 18 points late.
It was a one-point game with 15:07 remaining, but the Wildcats exploded to build their double-digit lead.
“They find ways to have spurts and make runs,” Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury said. “And they were able to find a way to spurt out the second half a little bit on some turnovers.”
Darius Thompson scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half and dished out six assists in total for the Hilltoppers (2-2), who were sent to the free throw line just four times.
Dwight Coleby had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Western Kentucky, which shot 44 percent but struggled to take care of the ball which led to Villanova getting easy baskets off turnovers after the interval.
“I think our turnovers were kind of self-inflicted,” Thompson admitted. “Just trying to do a little too much in the wrong times.”
Officials: Gary Maxwell, Antonio Perry, Jeb Hartness
Technical fouls: Western Kentucky-TEAM. Villanova-None.
Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total
Western Kentucky………….. 24 34 – 58
Villanova………………… 27 39 – 66
2017 Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis – Game 2