Monday, November 16, 2009
To the Villanova Wildcats faithful-
The #5 Wildcats may have felt that they had to get off to a better start, than they did in the season opener against Fairleigh Dickinson, on Friday the 13th. On that ominous date, they led the Knights by just a single point at the break - although the Wildcats rebounded and easily won by 23.
Tonight, however, they decided not to let the suspense linger. The Wildcats led 55-25 at halftime, en route to a thorough thrashing of City Series rival Pennsylvania. The final score was 103-65! Moreover, the Quakers - who fell behind 20-5 in the early going - were never remotely even in the contest, from tip-off.
More to come, as the evening continues, on this momentous Big Five victory for Villanova (1-0 City Series, 2-0 overall). ..... so please check back for a fully detailed recap....
Here's the complete game story for this evening's glorious, City-Series-unprecedented victory over the Penn Quakers... (For the exact details, where this game goes in the Villanova/Penn rivalry history, see separate post...)
But for right now, think of it this way- Villanova's 103 points represented the largest total ever mustered against Penn, of all 57 meetings between the Wildcats and Quakers.
The Game Action
Villanova rocketed out to a huge advantage, and never looked back.
Penn's first - and only - lead was 5-4, less than two minutes into the game, on a three from Darren Smith. It was shortlived, as less than 30 seconds later, Antonio Pena drained a pair of free throws to put 'Nova back on top, 6-5. It was a lead that Villanova would never relinquish.
The pair from Pena was the beginning of a 16-0 run for Villanova, which crushed Penn's confidence and morale from the get-go. The Quakers were held scoreless for over five minutes during this jaunt. The Pavilion crowd was engaged very early, and it permitted Jay Wright the opportunity to flash the vast plethora of weapons in his arsenal, this season. Except for one, surprisingly - the lowly timeout.
Wright did not call a single timeout, during the game. He said something to the effect, afterward, that although he's been a head coach at the collegiate level (both here and at Hofstra) for almost 500 games, he can't recall that he's ever had a game, where he didn't use a timeout. Things really did go that well, for Villanova tonight.
After the 20-5 opening, Penn never even reduced the deficit to single digits, for the rest of the game. They rebounded to score five unanswered points to cut it to 20-10.
But Villanova embarked on another big run, this time a 21-8 one, ending any flickering hopes for a Quaker comeback - the Wildcats now led 41-18, with four minutes to go, in the first half. And the assault simply continued. Even when Scottie Reynolds picked up his second foul at the 8:16 mark, Villanova already held a comfortable 30-16 lead, and it didn't matter much to take him off the floor.
The Wildcats ultimately would win the remainder of the first half, 35-15- taking a gargantuan, 55-25 lead into the locker room, at halftime.
The Halftime Box Score - Villanova 55, Penn 25
The numbers were glittering for 'Nova, and were withering for Penn. The Quakers had missed 20 of their 27 shots (25.9%) from the floor, shot only 4-17 (23.5%) from three-point range, and had committed nine turnovers. One of their key players, Jack Eggleston, had picked up two fouls and had played just nine minutes. The Quakers had been outrebounded, 21-15. They were a respectable 7-11 (63.6%) from the line, but that didn't even come close to offsetting all of the other negatives.
However, on the Villanova side, it couldn't have gone any better. The Wildcats shot 18-31 (58.1%) from the floor, 6-14 (43.9%) from three-point range, and a stellar 13-15 (86.7%) from the line. The offense was humming, with 10 assists on 18 field goals, and only five turnovers. In addition, the offense also showed a remarkable balance. Nine different Wildcats had already scored points by halftime!
By intermission, two newcomers had come off the bench to help power the juggernaut. Duke transfer Taylor King played 15 minutes, scoring seven points and securing half a dozen rebounds (four on the offensive end. And freshman Maalik Wayns had come off the bench, to lead all scorers with 10 points, in just 10 minutes of action.
As for the starters - Pena was well on his way to his double-double already, with eight points and six rebounds. Corey Stokes had eight points, while Corey Fisher, running the offense, particularly while Reynolds was on the bench, had half a dozen points- and also half a dozen assists. Freshman Mouphtaou Yarou had a great sequence in the final minute, when he made a pair of free throws, then recovered a King miss and laid it in at the buzzer, to give Villanova its 55-25 advantage.
The Second Half
The game was never remotely competitive in the second half. This was of enormous value to Villanova, as it permitted this still-assembling team, packed with newcomers, to give just about everyone significant minutes. Any flickering hopes that Penn had entertained of a rally, were undoubtedly extinguished when Villanova opened the second half on a 7-0 run, climaxing with a dunk from Pena, delighting the packed-to-the-rafters Pavilion faithful. The slam gave 'Nova a 62-25 lead, only 91 seconds into the second half.
Penn responded with a 6-0 run of its own, but the reduced deficit (now at 31 points) was their high-water mark for the rest of the game, if that can be imagined. Villanova's lead continued to swell.
The Villanova lead peaked at 48 points, after Wayns drilled a three-pointer with 7:17 to play, giving the Wildcats an incredible 93-45 lead. It was certain by now that Villanova would clear 100 points.
To Wright's credit, he emptied his bench, and no Wildcat played more than 26 minutes (Stokes); Pena, at 25 minutes, was the only one who played more than 21, in fact. Yarou, ironically, fouled out with 3:03 to play, having played only 17 minutes. As you can imagine, it's pretty rare in a lopsided, 103-65 game, to have a player on the winning team foul out.
This is for two reasons. One is the fact that the benches are emptied, and so it's hard for one individual to even get enough minutes, to commit five fouls. The other is that since you're ahead by such a huge margin, there's absolutely no reason to consider fouling anyone.
Walk-on Jason Colenda entered the game (to wild enthusiasm) at the 3:02 mark, with the score 97-55. Which was the right thing for Wright to do, not to wait until the final minute. Fellow walk-on Russell Wooten hit the floor, with 2:00 to play, and Villanova still one point shy of the century mark, holding a 99-55 lead.
And, of course, the Pavilion went crazy, when Wooten grabbed the rebound off an Isaiah Armwood miss, and laid it in to vault 'Nova over the century mark with 59 seconds to play - 101-59. Colenda had a golden opportunity to score, as well, when he was fouled with 48 seconds to play - but unfortunately, he missed the front end of a one-and-one. Penn actually went on a 6-2 run to end the game.
Final - Villanova 103, Penn 65.
There were a lot of heroes for Villanova.
Half a dozen Wildcats hit double digits in scoring:
Wayns (16), Reynolds, Stokes, and King (all with 14 each), Fisher (13, plus eight assists), and Pena (a dozen, plus 10 rebounds).
Worth noting - In attendance at the Pavilion this evening, in addition to the 1985 national-title legend Ed Pinckney (who also was a long time assistant coach here) being at the Pavilion, he was joined by another Villanova legend, Alex Bradley, class of '81 - another standout player from the Rollie Massimino era.
Next Up for the Wildcats
They head to sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rican Classic. In the quarterfinals of this holiday tournament, they will take on George Mason on Thursday. More about this tournament, as we get closer to game time...
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