PHILADELPHIA, December 13, 2100 – It was a tale of two halves. Villanova played a miserable offensive first half making just 6 of their 33 field goal attempts. The Wildcats turned it around in the after halftime on both ends of the floor going on a surge midway through the second half to come away with a 68 – 43 win over the Boston University Terriers at the Wells Fargo Center.
“This is a good win for us,” Villanova Coach Jay Wright said. “We had some heavy legs, and they played us tough in the first half. We didn’t shoot well, but we played good defense. We’re pleased with this. We are a work in progress.”
Villanova struggled early in the game shooting 18.2%. The Wildcats missed their last 16 shots. Junior Guard Maalik Wayns made only 1 of 9 missing his last 7 shots. Junior Center Mouphtaou Yarou did come to play scoring 11 first half points. Boston University made 10 – 26 from the floor. Despite the differential Villanova trailed by just 3 at halftime 26 – 23.
“Nobody was frustrated.” said Wright. “We believed we were going to make shots and play defense.”
The tide started to turn for Villanova as the held Boston U. scoreless for the last 5:18 of the first half. In the second half the Wildcats would awaken. Wayns nailed a three-pointer, then followed with a fast break layup off a turnover to give the Wildcats their first lead at 30 – 39 with 17:28 to play. Boston U. tied the score at 30 on a Patrick Hazel free throw. Then came the run.
Sophomore Guard James Bell made a deep three from the corner that started a run of 14 straight points featured by back to back baskets from beyond the arc by Junior Guard Dominic Cheek and Sophomore Forward JayVaughn Pinkston. Boston U. did not score for over five and a half minutes. Terrier Guard and Narberth, PA native Matt Griffin ended the run with a 3 cutting the gap to 44 – 33 with 11:54 to play. The Wildcats responded with an 11 – 2 run highlighted by seven straight Cheek points to move in front by 55 – 35 at the 6:58 mark giving Villanova control of the game. The lead would grow to as many as 27 points before the final horn sounded. Villanova did a lot to swing the game in their direction.
“We got stops, we got out in transition that led to easy baskets, offensive rebounds, a lot of little things that we are getting better at doing,” Wright said.
“We kept grinding,” said Wayns. “We got stops and easy baskets. We try to keep grinding to get stops.”
In the second half Villanova made 19 of 34 shots for 55.9% as the Wildcats scored 45 second half points. The Blue and White defense limited Boston U. to 23.3% shooting making 7 of 30 field goal attempts resulting in 17 second half points.
Cheek led all scorers with 14 points. Wayns added 10 while Yarou scored 13 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for a double-double. The Wildcats had 21 offensive rebounds to gain a 20 – 4 advantage in Second Chance Points, and a 34 – 18 lead in Points in the Paint.
Terrier Guard D.J. Irivng from Chester, PA scored a team-high 11 points. La Salle transfer Darryl Partin came into the game ranked fifth nationally averaging over 22 points per game. Villanova held him to 6 points making 2 of 15 field goal attempts.
“I was proud of that,” said Wright. “We tried to keep fresh bodies on him. We’ve lost games with guys getting loose on us. We did a great job on him.”
The Wildcats improve to 6 – 4 this season. Their next game will be on December 17 as they travel to the Hagan Arena to meet Saint Joseph’s in their annual battle.
“It will be a great game in a crazy environment,” said Wayns. “The Temple game prepared us for that.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian