Charleston, S.C. — Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins watched his team slice a double-digit lead to three points against defending national champion Villanova. Then the third-ranked Wildcats showed once more they’re built to handle tough games.
“They did what they do,” Hawkins said.
Villanova used a 13-4 run down the stretch for a 76-65 win over the Broncos (1-2) on Thursday to start the Charleston Classic. Western had cut a 14-point second-half lead to 59-56 to draw within striking distances of the Wildcats.
That’s when Eric Paschall, Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart all hit 3-pointers to keep Villanova undefeated and off to its fourth straight 3-0 start.
Paschall finished with 17 points, and Jalen Brunson and Hart 14 each. Jenkins, who’s shot at the end gave the Wildcats their national title last April, had 11.
“It was a good, tough game,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. “It wasn’t pretty, though and we’ve still got to get a lot better.”
Villanova improved to 12-0 in early season tournaments over the years. The Wildcats are chasing their third consecutive crown after winning the Legends Classic in 2014 and NIT season tipoff last year.
Jalen Brunson said the Wildcats, who toughed out a 79-76 win at No. 15 Purdue on Monday night, didn’t panic at Western’s charge.
“We’ve got veterans and it’s a situation we’ve seen before,” he said.
The Wildcats will face Wake Forest, a 103-81 winner over UTEP, on Friday for a spot in Sunday’s championship.
The Broncos (1-2) fell to 0-4 at the eight-team Charleston tournament. They lost all three games when they last visited in the 2008-09 season. Thomas Wilder led Western with 19 points.
(At) Central Michigan 107, Marygrove 58: Marcus Keene scored 23 and Braylon Rayson 22 for the Chippewas (3-0).
(At) No. 9 Wisconsin 69, Chicago State 51: Vitto Brown scored 12 and Khalil Iverson 11 for Wisconsin (2-1).
(At) Ohio State 72, Providence 67: JaQuan Lyle scored 20 and Jae’Sean Tate 14 for Ohio State (3-0).
(At) Maryland 93, St. Mary’s 45: Damonte Dodd had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Maryland (3-0).
Rutgers 66, (at) DePaul 59: Corey Sanders had 15 points, Mike Williams added 14 and nine rebounds and Rutgers remained unbeaten under first-year coach Steve Pikiell, whose team is 3-0.
No. 4 Oregon 76, Valparaiso 54: Chris Boucher had 25 points and nine rebounds to lead Oregon to its 27th consecutive home victory.
No. 11 Xavier 83, Missouri 82 (OT): Edmond Sumner’s free throw with 0.3 seconds left in overtime won it for Xavier (3-0) in the Tire Pros Invitational at Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
(At) No. 12 Louisville 88, Long Beach State 56: Jaylen Johnson had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Louisville (3-0).
(At) No. 16 UCLA 88, San Diego 68: T.J. Leaf had 26 points and 10 rebounds and fellow freshman Lonzo Ball added 13 points to help UCLA.
(At) No. 23 Texas 85, Eastern Washington 52: Tevin Mack scored 19 for Texas (3-0).