The Wildcats once again beat a Big Five opponent handily as they shook off the Explorers 81-63. Leading the way once again for Villanova was senior guard Scottie Reynolds and junior forward Antonio Pena, both of whom scored 14 points.
Villanova worked around the injury to freshman center Mouphtaou Yarou, foul trouble by sophomore forward Taylor King and the benching of Pena to start the game, who did not start because of disciplinary action. Although the weakened front line was outrebounded 51-34, Villanova was able to overcome the large disparity.
Part of the reason Villanova was able to survive was the tremendous play by their defense, which forced 27 turnovers. That coupled with a 20-37 day from the foul line for La Salle was enough to put the Wildcats on top.
With Michigan State losing yesterday, the Wildcats will most likely be No. 3 in Monday’s poll. The team will have their first chance to justify that ranking on Wednesday when Villanova takes on Drexel.
Prior to today’s game the team announced that senior guard Jason Colenda has left the team to focus on receiving his degree. The walk-on leaves the team after just five games in his senior season.
According to Villanova officials, Mouphtaou Yarou is still being evaluated by officials to determine the origin of his viral infection. He is doubtful to play on Saturday.
In what was a remarkably thin front court for Villanova for most of Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Antonio Peña stepped up when the team needed him most, recording career-highs in points and rebounds with 17 and 16, respectively, in the tournament’s championship game. The performance led Villanvoa to a 79-67 victory and gave Peña the honor of being named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
Peña’s aggressiveness was one of the mains reasons that Villanova was able to slow down a high-powered Ole Miss offense. Coming into the game, the Rebels were averaging 89.2 points per game, but the team struggled to get any offense going on Sunday, shooting just 38. 1 percent.
Aside from Peña, senior guard Scottie Reynolds helped push the Wildcats past the Rebels. After a back and forth first half between the two teams, Reynolds sparked Villanvoa in the second half, scoring 18 of his 21 points. The strong game went towards an inclusion on the all-tournament team.
Villanova leaves Puerto Rico justifying its top-five ranking and now has a chance to get on a particularly fast start before Big East play. The Wildcats play just one ranked team (Maryland) before they enter their conference portion of the schedule.
Next up for Villanova is LaSalle on Saturday.
In what inevitably had to be a better played game than No. 5 Villanova’s win over George Mason yesterday, the Wildcats got past a pesky No. 18 Dayton team to improve to 4-0 and advance to the finals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
The Wildcats were paced once again by Corey Fisher, who finished with 18 points and continued to show an ability to get to the foul line as he made 10-of-12 shots from the stripe. Throughout the game, Fisher was able to get by his defender and into the lane whenever he wanted to as the Dayton defenders could not stay with him.
Aside from Fisher, Taylor King also looked strong again. Despite starting yesterday, he came off the bench against Dayton as Maurice Sutton started for Villanova. King finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds and showed the energy that Coach Jay Wright needs off the bench.
Next up for Villanova will be the winner of Ole Miss and Kansas State. That game and the Wildcats date with Maryland on Dec. 6 will be the team’s two biggest tests before Big East play begins.
Despite having almost everything possibly go wrong, Villanova survived an upset attempt by George Mason and advanced to the second round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on a 3-point shot by freshman forward Isaiah Armwood.
The day began on a bad note even before the game started as freshman forward Mouphtaou Yarou was forced to return to Villanova after coming down with a viral infection. Things got worse as the Wildcats saw Antonio Pena, Taylor King, Corey Stokes and Maurice Sutton all foul out in the game. Meanwhile, Scottie Reynolds committed ten turnovers, and Corey Fisher made just 1-of-14 shots from the field.
However, the Wildcats overall talent was enough to get by George Mason. A furious second-half comeback had the Wildcats down four with less than a minute to play. Maalk Wayns then connected on a 3-point shot to pull the team within one. After a George Mason free throw, Reynolds drove to the lane and kicked the ball out to Armwood, who connected to give Villanova the 0ne-point lead. In George Mason’s final possession they failed to get a shot off before time expired.
Reynolds led all Wildcats in points with 18, while Fisher finished close behind with 17, including a 14-of-18 day from the foul line. Pena recorded his second straight double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
With the win Villanova will now face Dayton in the second round. The game will be tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Freshman center Mouphtaou Yarou was forced to travel back home after being diagnosed with a viral infection. His status for the rest of the tournament is not clear.