VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Two things became clear as Villanova opened a comfortable lead in the first half Sunday: The Wildcats weren’t going to lose twice in one week, and La Salle was paying the price for their first defeat of the season.
Josh Hart scored 18 points and Ryan Arcidiacono had 14 to help No. 9 Villanova roll past La Salle 76-47.
The Wildcats (8-1) bounced back after a miserable shooting performance Monday in a 78-55 loss to No. 7 Oklahoma.
”They’re not shaken confidence-wise. We just learned a lot from it,” coach Jay Wright said.
Villanova found its long-range touch, hitting 13 3-pointers, and had 24 assists on 28 baskets.
The Wildcats again flexed their muscle as the class of Philadelphia basketball. They’ve won 12 straight games in the Big 5, round-robin play among five city Division I teams that dates to 1955.
At the Pearl Harbor Invitational in Honolulu, the Wildcats missed 28 of 32 3-pointers against Oklahoma. They had made 11 of 19 when they doubled up the Explorers 66-33 midway through the second half.
Villanova hasn’t lost two straight games since March 2013.
”I was sick when I saw them lose that game,” La Salle coach John Giannini said. ”Really good teams, and we’re to that point now, just don’t lose back-to-back games very often.”
Hart connected on two straight 3s midway through the first half to open a double-digit lead, and Villanova dominated from there.
Villanova holds the city series record with 14 straight victories from 2004-05 to 2007-08. The Explorers beat the Wildcats three seasons ago, the year they reached the Sweet 16.
La Salle (4-4) hasn’t made the postseason since that remarkable run and played like a team on the brink of extending that streak another season.
”This is kind of our transition year,” Giannini said. ”We’ve transitioned from those guys that we won a lot of games with to a new core group. We’re a couple of players, probably, short right now.”
Jordan Price, who entered third in the nation in scoring at 25.9 points per game, led the Explorers with 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting.
The Wildcats reached 70 points with 6:30 left and have won 36 consecutive games when scoring at least that many.
Hart, Jalen Brunson and Arcidiacono opened the second half with 3-pointers that turned a comfortable lead into a full-blown rout. Brunson, the highly touted freshman guard, scored 13 points.
”We didn’t play the way we usually play in Hawaii,” Arcidiacono said. ”I think getting back here, we had a couple of great practices this week and were able to get back to what we do.”
Without much reason for sustained excitement, Daniel Ochefu snapped the crowd out of a funk with three rim-shaking dunks. He also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Inside or outside, the Explorers were no match for a Villanova team again stamped the Big East favorite.
”We just re-established ourselves with Villanova basketball,” Arcidiacono said.
La Salle: The Explorers have made a 3-pointer in 786 straight games, the 13th-longest streak in the nation. … La Salle has lost three straight games.
Villanova: F Kris Jenkins was benched for a minor academic infraction. Phil Booth got the start. Jenkins scored three points and Booth had 10. … The Wildcats had 13 assists on 14 baskets in the first half. … Wright emptied the bench with 2:48 left. … Villanova made all seven free throws.
Wright is a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan and watched the afternoon game for as long as he could before he had to get ready for his own game.
”I had to turn it off with 1:50 left,” he said.
The Eagles beat the Buffalo Bills 23-20.
”I know,” Wright said with a wink. ”I asked.”
La Salle returns from a long break for exams Dec. 22 at the Palestra against No. 17 Miami.
Villanova plays Saturday at No. 10 Virginia.