Villanova races away from Towson 78-44

BY DAVE ZEITLIN (Associated Press)
The Associated Press

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) -- James Bell scored 20 points and Villanova rode a staunch defensive effort to rout turnover-prone Towson 78-44 on Sunday.

Three other players scored in double figures for the Wildcats (3-0), who forced the Tigers into 24 turnovers, which they turned into 27 points.

Jerrelle Benimon, the reigning CAA Player of the Year, was the only player to hit double figures for Towson (3-1), scoring 11 points.

The game was part of the Battle 4 Atlantis, which stretches out over the rest of the month.

Towson (3-1), the preseason favorite to win the CAA, came into Sunday's contest riding a three-game winning streak to open the season, marking the program's best start since 1972. But the mid-major power was out of sync all night against their Big East opponent.

Towson averaged more than a turnover per minute for most of the first half and at halftime had nearly as many turnovers (18) as points (20). The Tigers had been averaging just 12 turnovers per game coming into Sunday's contest.

Villanova jumped all over the Tigers early, using an effective press to open up a quick 14-2 lead with everyone in the starting lineup scoring. After just seven minutes, Towson had already committed 11 turnovers as Villanova led 18-4. And by the time the first half ended, Villanova held a commanding 42-20 lead, its largest of the game.

Things didn't get much better after the break for the Tigers, who threw the ball into the stands twice in the opening minutes of the second half. And, highlighted by a crowd-rocking putback slam from Bell, the Wildcats put the game away for good with a 9-0 run that gave them a 57-24 lead with 12 minutes left.

Ryan Arcidiacono and JayVaughn Pinkston each scored 12 points for Villanova, which has outscored its opponents by an average of 27 points per game so far this season.

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