Tuesday, March 03, 2009

23 Points From Reynolds Power #11 Villanova Past Host Notre Dame in Second Half, 77-60

To the Wildcat faithful-

On Monday, March 2, #11 Villanova rebounded from its disappointing home loss to Georgetown by winning a significant game on the road at Notre Dame. The Wildcats entered the locker room at halftime, deadlocked with the Fighting Irish at 32 apiece, but took control in the second half to win by a surprisingly resounding margin, 77-60.

The victory was very meaningful, as Notre Dame badly needed a good win to bolster any waning hopes it had of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The loss to 'Nova probably destroyed the faintest shred of optimism, as the Irish are now just 7-10 Big East, 16-13 overall, and will not be making a third straight trip to the NCAA tournament without a stunning run in New York City, with no byes to help them.

Notre Dame started the season with a 3-1 Big East mark, 12-3 overall; they have now lost 10 of their 14 games. The only hope for the Irish was to defeat Connecticut on the road on Saturday and to top 'Nova last night, and they were able to defeat neither highly-ranked opponent. Their finale is against St. John's at home, a win that won't help them in the RPI or in the eyes of the Selection Committee.

Villanova improved its record to 12-5 Big East, 24-6 overall, and remained very much in the hunt for one of the four first-ever double-byes in Madison Square Garden. Having only dropped a single spot in the AP poll on Monday, the Wildcats demonstrated why they are ranked so highly. After turning the ball over an appalling 20 times against Georgetown, the Wildcats committed just five in South Bend, Indiana - and forced 15 Notre Dame turnovers.

Six of the eight Wildcats in the rotation had above-average performances. Scottie Reynolds broke out of his recent skid in a major way, with one of his best games of the season. Reynolds dropped 23 points, on an outstanding 6-7 from beyond the arc- and 8-12 shooting overall. And he wasn't just shooting the lights out. He augmented his box score line with half a dozen rebounds, two steals, and five assists - while committing just one turnover and playing all but one minute. The fantastic overall game from Reynolds bodes well for the Wildcats' fortunes later this month, in the NCAA tournament.

Dante Cunningham had a fine game as well, scoring 18 points and collecting eight rebounds. But the spotlight deservedly goes to his fellow senior, Shane Clark, who scored 13 points on 5-7 shooting (including a triple) and doing so while logging just 19 minutes. Reggie Redding continued his solid play of late, as he continues to justify Jay Wright's increase in his minutes. Redding played 38 minutes last night, scoring seven points, adding five rebounds, three assists and two steals while committing two turnovers. Dwayne Anderson struggled through a 2-9 night from the floor (five points) but did contribute in other ways, with half a dozen rebounds, three steals, two assists, and a block in 24 minutes.

Off the bench, Antonio Pena surprised with some significant playing time: six points and three rebounds in just 13 minutes, after he made only a cameo appearance against the Hoyas (and also managed to wind up with four fouls after aggressively pounding the glass...)

The Coreys, regrettably, were the only members of the rotation who had subpar games - and for the second straight game. Fisher and Stokes combined to play 33 minutes, scoring five points on 1-9 shooting, three rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block. Fisher also fell into foul trouble, committing four fouls.

For Notre Dame, the big gun was Ryan Ayers, the local product from Blue Bell, Pa. and Germantown Academy (the alma mater of Villanova great Alvin Williams, one of the mainstays of the mid-'90s teams under Steve Lappas). Ayers, who averages 11.2 pts/game, scored 25 points, including 7-10 shooting from beyond the arc, and added four rebounds and four assists. Luke Harangody finished with 18 points and seven rebounds; they were the only two Notre Dame players to reach double figures.

Looking at the team numbers: Notre Dame actually won the rebounding battle, which is unusual in 17-point defeats - the final margin was 39-36 on the boards. So the explanation lies elsewhere for the lopsided margin. One reason was the Wildcats' torrid shooting from beyond the arc - Reynolds led the team to an outstanding 9-17 from three-point range. Another was ND's dismal showing at the line, making just half of their 20 free throw attempts, while Villanova shot 10-13 (76.9%).

The Wildcats will play their Pavilion finale on Thursday against Providence - although it will be very anticlimactic, since Senior Night was observed against Rutgers, way back on Feb. 19. It made sense to hold the ceremony that night, as the students are away on spring break this week and that was the last pre-spring break Pavilion game, as the Georgetown game was at its frequent location, the Wachovia Center. Villanova will be looking to sweep the season series from the Friars; the Wildcats nearly lost a huge lead up at Providence back on Feb. 4, before surviving with a three-point victory - you can read my recap - #17 Villanova Hangs On for Wild Win at Providence, 94-91 - of that game...

Stop by again for a preview of the regular-season finale...

Various Viewpoints

Also, go get the reactions to the impressive victory over Notre Dame, from the other Villanova sites:

VUHoops.com has the wrapup in its usual scoreboard headline: Villanova 77: :Notre Dame 60...

Pete at Let's Go 'Nova has Villanova Handles Notre Dame...

I Bleed Blue and White justifiably praises Redding's defensive performance in postGame: Villanova 77, Notre Dame 60 ... he writes:
But the player of the game? That’s Reggie Redding, who single handedly (okay, he had a little help) took sharpshooter Kyle McAlarney out of the game. He had just 5 points on 2-7 shooting (just 1-3 from beyond the arc) with most of his shots coming in garbage time. That was a defensive performance for the ages. I can’t say enough about the game that Redding had tonight. He had 7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Vintage Redding.
IBBW also has his usual video clips in Highlights: Villanova-Notre Dame...

greyCat at
Villanova By the Numbers describes the outcome accurately in Notre Dame Post Game -- Good Enough...

Tim at
Nova News puts it thus - Villanova Knocks Out Fighting Irish...

And for a valuable Notre Dame perspective, take a look at Black and Green's recap at the Black and Green Irish Men's Basketball Report, Villanova 77, Notre Dame 60...

Go Wildcats!

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