Dominic Cheek chipped in with 14 points and seven rebounds as the unranked Wildcats (6-4) avoided a third consecutive loss. Still, it was hardly vintage Villanova for 25 minutes. The Wildcats, who trailed 26-23 at the half, have lost four of six and played this nonconference tilt in front of a sparse, announced crowd of 8,313 at the Wells Fargo Center.
D.J. Irving had 11 points to pace the Terriers (4-7), who made the NCAA Tournament last season under coach Patrick Chambers and are now led by former Villanova assistant Joe Jones. Chambers left the Terriers in June to take the vacant position at Penn State.
Boston, which has lost three in a row, was making its second of three trips to Philadelphia this month. The Terriers lost to Saint Joseph’s 75-68 on Dec. 7, and will take on La Salle on Dec. 29.
After just four points in 9 minutes of the first half, James Bell broke a 30-all tie with 16:39 left in the second half by nailing a 3-pointer. That basket drew the loudest ovation of the night and sparked the Wildcats to just their second lead of the game, but one they would not relinquish. Bell finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Villanova will close out its slate with the rest of Philadelphia’s Big 5 on Saturday, when the Wildcats meet Saint Joe’s. Villanova has already defeated La Salle and Penn, while losing to Temple.