Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Darrun Hilliard and Dylan Ennis each scored 15 points as No. 10 Villanova remained unbeaten with an 84-70 win over rival La Salle on Wednesday in the Big 5 opener for both schools.
Josh Hart and JayVaughn Pinkston had 12 points apiece with Daniel Ochefu adding 10 and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (7-0), who next face Saint Joseph's on Saturday in the 2014 edition of the Holy War between the Catholic institutions.
Jerrell Wright totaled a game-best 19 points for the Explorers (4-3), who play Temple in another rivalry game on Saturday. Khalid Lewis picked up 17 points and Jordan Price had 10 in La Salle's third consecutive loss.
"We are just taking it one game at a time," said Wright. "This game is over with, and we are just looking forward to playing Temple on Saturday."
Villanova led 4-0 early on but La Salle countered to go up 9-8 on a 3-pointer from Cleon Roberts.
Pinkston hit a bucket a short time later to fuel a 16-5 surge which sent the Wildcats on top 24-14 with 8:24 left in the half on back-to-back shots from Hart.
A Lewis shot closed the gap to 24-18, but Kris Jenkins drained a trey and Pinkston converted a three-point play to put Villanova up 30-18. Its lead ballooned to 35-20 on a jumper from Ochefu with 4:30 remaining.
A triple from Hilliard boosted Villanova's margin to 18, at 45-27, with just over a minute to play before intermission and that spread stood at the break after Pinkston converted a jumper to make it 47-29.
Price scored four straight and Wright added a layup to shrink La Salle's deficit to 51-40 less than five minutes into the second half.
However, Ennis hit from long distance on the next possession and within a span of four minutes a Ryan Arcidiacono basket boosted the Villanova lead to 63-44.
Pinkston hit two from the line with 6:09 remaining and the Wildcats led by 20 for the first time, 74-54, before La Salle's last run -- an 11-2 burst capped by two Wright free throws -- pulled it to 80-70 with 2:10 to play.
The Explorers missed their final three shots while Ochefu and Pinkston hit easy buckets to close out the contest.
Villanova has won 12 of the last 13 meetings since December 2002. La Salle's last win against Villanova was 77-74 (OT) on Nov. 25, 2012 at the Pavilion ... The Wildcats scored 21 points off 13 La Salle turnovers ... Ennis led all players with nine assists.