PHILADELPHIA — Villanova posted another big win against its Big 5 neighbors.
James Bell scored 19 points and the No. 9 Wildcats pulled away from Temple 90-74 on Saturday.
The Wildcats finished 4-0 against their city rivals, beating Temple, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Penn by a combined 90 and winning each game by at least 16.
Villanova (19-2) has won the Big 5 title 22 times in school history. The only games the ‘Cats have lost this season have been on the road at No. 2 Syracuse and at home to now-No. 20 Creighton.
“We prepare for (Big 5) games the same way we prepare for Big East games,” Bell said. “We prepare hard, and we just focus on what we have to do.”
Temple (6-14) prepared plenty for Bell and played some solid defense on him. But even as the Owls were chasing him around the perimeter and closing out on his looks, Bell still managed to finish 7 for 13 from the floor, including 5 for 10 on 3s.
“I thought there were a couple of 3s that were made that were guarded, especially with Bell,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “He’s really a great catalyst for them. He was the guy that I was most concerned about.”
Temple (6-14) missed out on a share of the city title and an opportunity to upset a Top 10 team for the sixth consecutive season. The Owls snapped an eight-game losing streak with a win over Rutgers on Wednesday, but have lost 11 of 13 overall.
The Wildcats took a five-point lead at the half and stretched it to as much as 24, at 64-40, with 10:17 to play. They outscored the Owls 28-9 in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
“The first part of the second half, we just didn’t guard good enough the first couple of possessions and we couldn’t score,” Dunphy said.
While Bell led the way, nine different Wildcats scored at least four points. JayVaughn Pinkston (13), Darrun Hilliard (12), Daniel Ochefu (11) and Dylan Ennis (10) finished in double figures.
“We can score,” coach Jay Wright said. “Defense, rebounding — I don’t know yet. But we can definitely score.”
“We definitely have to get better, but we can definitely score,” he said. “I just don’t want us to rely on that. Good teams have to be able to find ways to win on the nights when you’re not making shots. But this team has a lot of shooters, and they’re unselfish.”
Temple’s chances at a comeback took a hit with 11:22 remaining when its leading scorer to that point, junior guard Will Cummings, left the floor and headed into the locker room with a lacerated lip. He missed the next six minutes, returned later and finished with 24 points.
Temple big man Anthony Lee, who nearly had a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds in the first half, fouled out with 6:06 remaining. He had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Owls’ two best shooters, Dalton Pepper and Quenton DeCosey, combined to 9 for 31 from the field.
Villanova’s lead was as large as 12 in the first half but it slipped away when the ‘Cats went 6:35 without a field goal and gave up a 12-0 run to Temple. Ryan Arcidiacono closed the opening 20 minutes with back-to-back 3s to give the Wildcats a 36-32 lead at the break.
Despite shooting 10 for 36 from the floor and 1 of 8 from three before heading into the locker room, Temple stayed in the game by outscoring Villanova 9-0 on fastbreak points and 7-0 on points off turnovers.
Before the game on Saturday, Temple unveiled two statues at the Liacouras Center honoring its Hall of Fame coaches, Harry Litwack and John Chaney. Litwack guided the Owls from 1952-1973, complied a 373-193 record, led the program to its only Final Four appearance and an NIT Championship. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1976.
Chaney took over in 1982, compiled a 516-253 record and took his team to 17 NCAA tournaments and five Elite Eights. He was inducted into the Hall in 2001.