By Harry Allison
Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore combined for 12 assists and no turnovers in a season-opening 91-51 win over Mount St. Mary’s.
Gillespie scored 13 points in his first game back since suffering a torn MCL in his left knee. Moore hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 27 points for the Big East favorite Wildcats. Brandon Slater and Jermaine Samuels each added 17.
Villanova needed the tune-up headed into a stacked nonconference schedule that includes the Bruins later this week. They’ll play for only the sixth time and first since 2010.
“I think we’re ready to play a team like that,” coach Jay Wright said. “They’re a great team. It doesn’t mean we’re ready to beat them. But I think it’s a good time for us. This older group, they’ve been kind of beating each other up in the offseason for a while.”
Gillespie, who played on the 2018 national championship team but was injured last season on senior night, decided to return for a fifth season thanks to the rule that grants players an extra year of eligibility. He was cleared for workouts in August and made the AP preseason All-America team.
He hit an early 3-pointer on Tuesday and received the loudest ovation of the game from a raucous student section that’s back this year and locked arms and swayed during pregame introductions.
“Today was just another day playing with my teammates,” he said.
And just another Villanova beatdown in the opener. The Wildcats, who according to closed as 25.5-point favorites, opened the game on a 10-0 run and were never threatened. They hit 16 3s against only six turnovers.
The Mount made the NCAA Tournament’s First Four last season on the strength of a defense that allowed just 62.2 points per game. The Wildcats hit that mark with 11:50 left in the game, as Moore got a 3 for a 62-35 lead.
“We weren’t looking for me specifically,” Moore said of his big game. “We were just trying to come play together and set the tone defensively and that helped us get into our offense.”