VILLANOVA, November 18, 2011 – It was a game where the Villanova Wildcats always had the lead, but the Delaware Blue Hens would not go away. In the end Villanova made the big shots to answer every Delaware charge to earn a 79 – 69 victory at the Pavilion. Once again the Wildcats were led by their experienced trio of Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek, and Mouphtaou Yarou as they scored 61 of the 79 points scored by Villanova.
The Wildcats got off to a fast start moving in front 14 – 5 in the first six minutes of the game. Yarou led the way as the Junior Center had 9 early points. Villanova held the lead and went into halftime with a 38 – 24 lead as they limited Delaware to 34.5% shooting, and just 2 of 13 three’s. But the Blue Hens showed in the second half that this game would remain competitive.
Delaware started the second half with a 16 – 6 run to cut the lead to 44 – 40 at the 15:26 mark. Sophomore guard Devon Saddler was starting to find his range, and the back to back three-pointers got Delaware to within the four point margin. Villanova answered the charge with a three by Junior Guard Dominic Cheek and a layup by Junior Guards Maalik Wayns to regain momentum getting a nine-point lead.
“We are learning how to be a good team,” said Wright. “We had a 14 point lead at halftime. In the second half you’ve got to come out and build on it. In the second half we were lackadaisical. We’re just not a complete team yet. We’re a work in progress.”
Delaware made another charge to move to within 7 at 56 – 49 on a basket from beyond the arc by Freshman guard Kyle Anderson. Again, key baskets by Wayns and three-pointers by Cheek kept Villanova ahead despite a flurry of offense from Anderson and Saddler. The Blue Hens got no closer than 8 over the last four minutes. Cheek closed out the scoring for Villanova with 6 straight free throws.
Cheek and Wayns led Villanova with 21 points each. Cheek had 19 points in the second half, pulled down 4 rebounds and added 3 assists.
“I just kept on playing,” Cheek said about his second half turn-around. “I played defense, then I had shots and I took them. In the first half IO missed them, but in the second half I did the same thing.
Yarou scored 19 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. Villanova shot 48.2% (27 – 56) for the game and made 17 of 22 free throw attempts.
Delaware got a game-high 27 points for Saddler. Anderson scored 12 points on 4 of 9 shooting from 3-Point range. Freshman Guard Jarvis Threatt rounded out the double figures scorers with 11. Junior Forward Kelvin McNeil had a game-high 9 rebounds. The Blue Hens made 27 of 65 shots, but made only 10 of 32 Three-Point shots.
“We had some jitters early, but in the second half we were able to fight them toe-to-toe,” said Delaware Coach Monte Ross about the performance of his team. “We made a run and cut (the lead) to four, then they responded. We didn’t give them the game, they made shots.”
Villanova moves to 3 – 0 on the season. The Wildcats prepare for a trip to the west coast for three games beginning with a contest at UC Riverside. Villanova did not have an easy time over the last two games, but they are a team coming together. Every win for them is important.
“We gutted another one out, we have a lot to learn, and you can learn from wins, too,” Wright said. “In the La Salle game we learned to hang in there. After this game we are going to learn that when you have a fourteen point lead for the next twenty minutes you have to play it hard.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian