VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP)—Villanova may have gotten a bit complacent in the second half, and that was certainly understandable.
Holding a 32-point lead against a winless team was more than enough momentum to move into cruise control after halftime.
Dante Cunningham scored 19 points, Corey Stokes added 18 and No. 20 Villanova extended its season-opening winning streak to four games with a 71-48 victory over undermanned Monmouth on Tuesday night.
Shane Clark added 10 points for the Wildcats (4-0), who their 19th straight game at The Pavilion, their 6,500-seat on-campus arena.
“I thought we played a great first half,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I thought we paid attention to detail. We’ve got to keep our concentration longer. I think that’s the challenge.”
Villanova was without junior center Casiem Drummond, who was suspended for one game for disciplinary reasons. Wright described the infraction as a minor disciplinary issue and said Drummond will practice Wednesday.
The Wildcats were also without swingman Dwayne Anderson, sidelined with a foot injury.
Yet their lack of depth didn’t hurt against Monmouth.
“Coach Wright always talks about playing 40 minutes of basketball,” said Stokes, who was 5-of-11 from 3-point territory. “We’ve just got to keep pushing.”
Yaniv Simpson scored 11 points for winless Monmouth (0-5). The Hawks are playing without senior guard Whitney Coleman, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in their opener. Coleman led Monmouth in scoring last season, averaging 11.9 points.
Six minutes into the game, Monmouth lost point guard James Hett with a twisted ankle. He didn’t return.
“That was a bad omen for us in that they’re a veteran team and we’re young,” Monmouth coach Dave Calloway said.
Monmouth is 0-16 against Top 25 teams, and 0-33 against teams from the Big East.
Villanova seems rested and sharp after a six-day layoff. That’s quite a change from last week when the Wildcats struggling for stretches in a 77-62 win over Niagara on Wednesday.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better every day, every time we step on the court,” Cunningham said.
The Wildcats, who have won all six meetings they’ve had against Monmouth, shot 16-for-31 and charged to a 31-11 advantage. The lead swelled to 30 points on back-to-back 3-pointers by Stokes, giving Villanova a 43-13 lead.
Cunningham’s short jumper in the lane with 2.5 seconds left pushed the lead to 45-13 at halftime.
Monmouth went 11:10 without a field goal and was outscored 37-6 during one stretch of the first half.
“We’re a young team and we struggled to make shots,” Calloway said. “We had a tough time getting into our offense against them.”
Villanova scored the first five points of the second half and never looked back en route to the easy victory.
The matchup was a preliminary round game of the Philly Hoop Group Classic. The championship round games will be played Friday and Saturday at the Palestra.