Friday, March 20, 2009

NCAA First Round - #3 Villanova, Anderson Ascend Beyond #14 American Eagles, 80-67- After Trailing by 14 in 2nd Half (Part 2 - The Box Score)

To the Villanova Wildcats faithful-

#3 Villanova 80, #14 American 67 - NCAA First Round, The Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Part 2 - Looking At The Box Score

You can also read Part 1 of the #3 Villanova/#14 American recap...

The senior duo of Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham were the offensive engines tonight. As great a player as Cunningham has become, tonight belonged to his good friend Anderson. Anderson had the finest game of his Villanova career on the biggest stage, and on an evening when his Wildcats teammates needed him the most. Anderson finished with 25 points on incredible 9-10 shooting. He made four of his five three-point attempts. Most importantly, he had a knack for coming up with a triple when it was most needed, and he was the only Wildcat to show a formidable offensive punch in the first half, which American won 41-31. And it wasn't just filling up the Wachovia Center nets. Anderson also grabbed eight rebounds, including three on the offensive end.

Looking at Cunningham - he also had an exemplary performance - 25 points (including 7-7 from the line), seven rebounds, three blocks, and two assists. Unbelievable night from the two seniors...

Only seven Wildcats saw action; Antonio Pena, who usually sees some minutes, did not play at all, probably because Villanova did not need size, but quickness, and also because nobody got into foul trouble. Cunningham, who had been plagued with it recently, finished with only one foul in 36 minutes...

Scottie Reynolds continues to struggle. The Eagles effectively neutralized the high-octane junior, limiting him to eight points on just 2-7 shooting, and dealing two assists against four turnovers. He did rebound and defend well (three rebounds and three steals), but for Villanova to advance deep into the tournament, they have to figure out a way to turn him loose. Granted, opposing defenses have zeroed in on him and so we can expect him to be well-defended, so we'll see what happens....

Reggie Redding had a respectable game, contributing on defense and the glass. He finished with four blocks, four rebounds, and two assists, committing only one turnover. On the offensive end, he made a rare three-pointer, his only field goal, while missing his other three shots; he was 1-2 from the line.

Likewise for the third regular senior, Shane Clark - it was a passable game. In 19 minutes, Clark had three rebounds, three assists, and no turnovers - although he had only two points, both coming at the line; he missed both field goal attempts. His minutes were limited by the fact that he's a defender, and Villanova trailed for most of the game (another reason why Pena didn't get in at all). The Coreys got more minutes as a result...

Off the Bench

Corey Fisher was the third Wildcat, along with the senior duo, who had a unequivocally good performance. Fisher scored 11 points (mostly at the line, where he was 9-10), four rebounds, four assists, and three steals. The downside was that he committed three turnovers and was 1-5 from the floor in 27 minutes...

Corey Stokes had a respectable game, coming off the bench for just 16 minutes. Stokes scored five points on 2-6 shooting (1-5 from beyond the arc), three rebounds, and a single assist, turnover, steal, block, and personal foul ("1"s spread along his box score line.

Looking at the Wildcats as a team, the team may have won the game at the line. The Wildcats made an incredible 26 of their 29 free throws (89.7%), and those were the reason why the final score was so deceptively lopsided. For a team that led the game by a significant margin for three-quarters of play, the Eagles took just five free throws for the entire game, a shocking number. And they only made three of them.

The Wildcats also shot well (28-50, 49%) and hit a decent number of threes (6-18, 33%). They crushed the smaller Eagles on the glass, 32-20, and blocked eight shots to American's one. What was not impressive were the 16 turnovers. In contrast, American had more assists (16), than turnovers (12).

Enormous kudos must be extended to the American Eagles, who demonstrated that they should not have been taken lightly. They had the additional disadvantage of playing on Villanova's quasi-home court, and they turned in a fantastic performance.

It had been anticipated that American's Big Three would be the most significant threat to Villanova's advancement, and that turned out to be accurate. Garrison Carr had an outstanding evening, one of the best performances that any of Villanova's 21st-century NCAA opponents has had. The diminutive Carr scored 22 points on 8-18 shooting, including 6-14 from beyond the arc, in 37 minutes.

Derrick Mercer played all 40 minutes, scoring 17 points on 8-16 shooting, while adding four assists and three steals. Brian Gilmore played 36 minutes, had 16 points on 7-15 shooting, although he was held to 2-9 from beyond the arc. (Commenter Seamus insightfully noted in his comment to Part 1, that one of Gilmore's misses early in the second half, and Dante Cunningham's layup on the ensuing possession, helped to keep the game within reach.) Gilmore added four rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals.

American coach Jeff Jones used nine players, but the Big Three played the most minutes; fellow starters Jordan Nichols (the Maryland high school opponent of Anderson, Cunningham and Reynolds) and Frank Borden played 27 and 26 minutes respectively, but did not have a large impact. Their sixth man, sophomore guard Joe Hendra, was ineffective, playing 16 minutes, scoring no points while missing four shots (including three triples). Three other Eagles saw action off the bench, but the Eagles bench combined for a grand total of two points, while the Coreys added 16 points.

Check back through the weekend, as I'll be adding #6 UCLA materials for Villanova's second-round game, set for tip-off early Saturday afternoon... and take a look at the Various Viewpoints on the right sidebar...

Go Wildcats!

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