Southern California broke open a tight game in the final 10 minutes Friday night and defeated Villanova, 72-61, in an exhibition college basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.

The contest benefited the California Fire Foundation, which aids victims of wildfires in the state.

The Wildcats, who played without starting guard Collin Gillespie, sidelined with a broken nose, shot just 37.3 percent for the game and were outrebounded 39-32. Freshmen Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led Villanova with 20 points and nine rebounds.

The Cats held a 28-27 lead at halftime, and the game was tied at 49 midway through the second half before the Trojans gradually pulled away.

“Down the stretch they made some great plays offensively and we didn’t execute well offensively,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. “We have to learn who we are, learn who our go-to guys are. That’s why these games are good, you can hit some threes that bail you out and still have the same problems but might not recognize them.

“There’s a lot of little things we can improve on but for this first game I was very pleased. Defense was decent for about 30 minutes but our offense couldn’t score.”