By Ben Sullivan

Phil Booth and Eric Paschall powered Villanova to an 80-52 thumping over visiting Seton Hall for their eighth consecutive victory.

”The way Booth and Paschall are playing, you give them that many opportunities, they’re going to get you,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said.

Booth hit seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points. Paschall finished with 17 points, going over 1,000 for his career. They combined for 10 of Villanova’s 17 3s and made 15 of the team’s 28 baskets.

Booth and Paschall have picked up the scoring slack for a program that needed to find chemistry after it lost four players to the NBA draft. Now it looks as if it’s rolling toward another conference crown under Wright.

”I think we’re starting to trust each other more,” Booth said.

Against the Pirates, Paschall and Booth combined for six 3s and 26 points in the first half. The duo outscored Seton Hall 26-20 and the Wildcats led by 10 at the break. Booth missed a 3, the offensive rebound got kicked out to him and he nailed a 3 from the top of the arc to make it 30-20.

The national champions still have some kinks to work out to become a deep threat in March – namely, finding a third scorer – but again should be a low single-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Saddiq Bey was the only other scorer in double digits (10 points), which is a surprise for any team that held a 35-point lead. The Wildcats (16-4, 7-0 Big East) know they’ll need more than senior stars Paschall and Booth to win big games in March.

”I worry about that,” Wright said. ”Not that they’re not good enough to carry us. I just don’t want to wear them out.”

He wants his underclassmen like Bey and Collin Gillespie to start to assert themselves as offensive threats. Gillespie hit Villanova’s ninth 3-pointer to push the lead to 45-26 and blow the game open in the second half.

”We’ve got to get into those situations where they’re forced to do it and they get it done,” Wright said.

The other three Wildcats on the court weren’t forced to do much else but offer some high-fives each time Booth and Paschall hit 3s. The Wildcats held Seton Hall to just nine baskets through the first 26 minutes in a Big East mismatch.

The Pirates (12-8, 3-5) remain 0-for-Nova on the road since 1994. The Wildcats have won 17 straight games on their home court against Seton Hall (15-0 Pavilion; 2-0 Wells Fargo Center).

Seton Hall had 14 turnovers in the first half and missed 8 of 10 3-pointers, the latest inept performance against a Villanova program the Pirates have not defeated since 2016.

The Wildcats lost back-to-back games to Michigan and Furman in November and had consecutive losses to Penn and Kansas in December. Now it’s back to blue-blood reality for the Wildcats – even if the winning streak has masked some deficiencies.

”We still have a lot of work to do,” Wright said.

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