Saturday, November 28, 2009

#4 Wildcats Win 8th Straight Over City Series Rival La Salle, 81-63, at Pavilion

To the Wildcat faithful-

The #4 Villanova Wildcats continued their juggernaut, within the Philadelphia Big Five, on Saturday afternoon, at the Pavilion.  Villanova had no trouble routing crosstown rival La Salle, 81-63, for the eighth consecutive time.  La Salle's last victory had come on November 27, 2001, right after Jay Wright had taken over for Steve Lappas.  The eight-game winning streak by Villanova represents the longest streak of success for either team, in this particular Big Five rivalry.

It does seem odd, however, focusing on basketball on Thanksgiving weekend.  The holiday is so closely associated with football - as it should be.  This weekend is really too early, to be thinking about the hardwood.

But the 6,500 Pavilion partisans did not let their feasting (both on Thursday and throughout this weekend) on turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and mashed potatoes, inter alia, deter them from turning out in large numbers to support their Wildcats, in City Series play.

The Wildcats remain unbeaten in City Series play, at 2-0; La Salle fell to 0-1.  The Wildcats also improved their overall record to 6-0, while La Salle dropped to 3-2.  Villanova is now also well on its way, to sweeping its City Series rivals for the third straight season - only St. Joseph's and Temple stand in its path.  Villanova has now won 20 of its last 21 contests, against Big Five opponents.

La Salle fell to 5-4 at the Pavilion, all-time, an exceptionally strong record there, as it is a very hostile environment for visitors.  In fact, the Explorers won five of their first six games there.  However, Villanova has now won three in a row at the Pavilion.

Four Wildcats reached double figures.  Scottie Reynolds and Antonio Pena each contributed 14 points, while Corey Fisher added 13 points, and freshman Dominic Cheek came off the bench to score 10 points in just 23 minutes of action.

For La Salle, Kimmani Barrett had a game-high 17 points on 7/10 shooting from the floor.  Two Explorers also recorded double-doubles: Aaric Murray, with 15 points and 14 rebounds (nine on the offensive end), and Jerrel Williams had 15 points and 16 rebounds (a dozen on the offensive end of the glass).  Williams struggled, however, despite the lofty numbers.  He went just 3/11 from the floor, as well as shooting only 9/19 from the foul line.

La Salle missed all seven of its initial three-point attempts, and never really got on track.  The Wildcats enjoyed a solid 38-30 lead at intermission.  In the second half, it was only marginally competitive.  The closest that La Salle got to Villanova, was early in the second half.

Villanova's lead was just a half-dozen points, 45-39, shortly after play resumed.  But the Wildcats turned on the jets, launching an 16-5 run that effectively ended the contest.  The Wildcats now led 61-44, with just under nine minutes to play; La Salle was never able to close the gap to single digits, the rest of the way.

Next Up for the Wildcats

Villanova will take on another Philadelphia team (although not a Big Five member), the Drexel Dragons, at the Pavilion, on Wednesday, December 2.  Check back for a full preview...

Of course, I hope all of you enjoyed your Thanksgiving weekend...

Go Wildcats!


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