For a season opener, Steve Lappas liked what he saw.
"Our level of intensity was the key," the Villanova coach said. "That's why we were able to respond when we got down by a point."
With Eric Eberz scoring 23 points and All-American candidate Kerry Kittles adding 11 of his 16 in the second half, the No. 3 Wildcats beat Wisconsin 66-58 Monday in the Maui Invitational at Lahaina.
Villanova led 34-25 lead at the half, but the Badgers came back with a 12-2 run to begin the second half and took their only lead of the game.
After Wisconsin inched ahead, Kittles took control. He hit a three-pointer and so did Eberz in the next four minutes to restore control.
Wisconsin drew to 53-49 but Villanova put the game away on baskets by Jason Lawson and Zeffy Penn, followed by a technical foul on the Badgers' bench. That resulted in five additional points on three free throws and a basket on the ensuing possession.
Villanova outscored Wisconsin from the foul line 16-6 and held a 42-33 rebounding advantage.
Dick Bennett was making his debut as coach for Wisconsin, which was led by Mosezell Peterson with 17 points. Sam Okey added 12 and Sean Daugherty had 10.
Michigan State 69, Chaminade 66--Quinton Brooks made an 8-foot turnaround jumper with 51 seconds left and Daimon Beathea converted a free throw 33 seconds later in the first game of the Maui Invitational. In Tom Izzo's first game as coach, the Spartans struggled. In the past, the Division II Silverswords upset several ranked teams, including Virginia, which was ranked No. 1 at the time, Louisville and Southern Methodist.