SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Freshman Cam Biedscheid led a balanced attack with a career-high 18 points as Notre Dame held off Villanova for a 65-60 Big East victory Wednesday at Purcell Pavilion.
Villanova cut a late eight-point deficit to 61-58 with 24 seconds to play on Darrun Hilliard's 3-pointer, and the Wildcats regained possession four seconds later on an Irish turnover.
However, another Hilliard 3-point attempt bounced off the rim, and Notre Dame's Jack Cooley was fouled on the rebound with 13.3 seconds remaining. He hit both shots to restore a five-point lead.
Biedscheid hit four 3-pointers in a 12-minute span and had five for the game on seven attempts. Cooley had 17 points and 16 rebounds for Notre Dame (17-4, 5-3 Big East).
Jerian Grant had 12 points while Tom Knight added 10 for the Irish, who have won three of their last four.
Mouphtaou Yarou led Villanova (13-8, 4-4) with a game-high 20 points. Hilliard scored 14 points, and JayVaughn Pinkston added 11.
The first few minutes had all the makings of a Notre Dame blowout.
The Irish sprinted to an 11-5 lead in the opening 4:38 but couldn't maintain that pace as five Wildcat players scored over the next 5:37 as Villanova took a 16-15 lead.
Following two more lead changes and three ties, Villanova took the first-half lead for good at 25-24 at the 4:13 mark on two Yarou free throws. The Wildcats never relinquished the edge on the way to a 31-29 halftime advantage.
Cooley had a game-high 12 first half points while Yarou topped Villanova with nine.
Biedscheid had the hot hand with four 3 pointers in a 12-minute span. Fouled on a baseline 3-point try, he hit three consecutive free throws and followed with a 3-point field goal as Notre Dame reclaimed the lead, 35-33, early in the second period.
Biedscheid hit another baseline 3 four minutes later, this time pushing the Irish back ahead at 41-39. He got his third of the half with 9:43 to play for a 47-43 lead. His fourth 3-pointer came with 8:02 showing for a 50-46 Irish edge.
Thirty-one seconds later, Grant picked up a loose ball and collected a layup for Notre Dame's biggest lead since the early minutes at 52-46.
Notre Dame extended its lead to eight points at 59-51 with 3:40 to play on Grant's 3-pointer.
Field-goal shooting by both teams slipped for a time in the second half. Both shot around 43 percent through the first 20 minutes, then both teams went cold as those percentages fell into the mid-30s as the Irish missed 13 of their first 16 shots and Wildcats went just 2-for-13.
NOTES: Hilliard entered Wednesday's game as reigning Big East Player of the Week. He helped the Wildcats to a pair of victories over top five foes last week -- Villanova's first since 1985 -- as he averaged 18 points and five rebounds in wins over then-No. 5 Louisville and No. 3 Syracuse ... Knight earned his second straight start. Last Saturday at South Florida, he collected 17 points and seven rebounds ... Villanova leads the highly competitive series 18-17. The Wildcats have dominated in recent years, posting a 13-7 record since Notre Dame joined the Big East in 1995 ... The game was the 26th time Irish coach Mike Brey and Wildcats coach Jay Wright have faced each other. They both coached in the America East Conference at Delaware and Hofstra, respectively. Brey has a 16-10 all-time lead over Wright. ... Cooley continues to lead the Big East in rebounding, as he had a 10.8 average before Wednesday. He's also the only player in the country to rank in the top 10 in double-doubles (13), rebounds per game and field goal percentage (.592) ... Irish center Scott Martin remains out with continuing left knee problems. He had started 18 games and had averaged 7.9 points and 5.9 rebounds ... Notre Dame resumes conference play Saturday at DePaul, while Villanova hosts Providence on Sunday.