PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/22/2013 – The Villanova Wildcats had no qualms about playing the 5th ranked team in the nation. The team welcomed the challenge of playing the Louisville Cardinals, and Villanova got the upset 73 – 64 over Louisville. Coach Jay Wright felt that if they kept getting better and dong the right things this would be the result.
“If we kept doing the right things, good things would happen,” said Wright. “These guys never wavered and it broke through tonight. When they feel success it gives them confidence in what we do.”
In the first half the Wildcats took a 30 – 28 lead into the locker room. Villanova did commit 10 turnovers in the half, but they forced Louisville into the same number. Treading water is better than sinking, although the Wildcats had a 23 – 13 lead with just over 8 minutes remaining in the half. Louisville erased that margin by holding Villanova scoreless for four and a half minutes. However, the Blue and White found enough offense to have an edge midway through the game.
In the second half neither team could create separation. Villanova went ahead 39 – 34 on a three-pointer by freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono with 16:24 on the clock. The Cardinals answered by scoring the next 9 points. Both teams were pressuring on defense. The team that got sustained offense in the face of pressure would decide the contest.
That team would be Villanova as a 7 – 0 run gave them a 53 – 52 lead on a follow by freshman forward Daniel Ochefu with 5:51 to play. after Louisville tied the score sophomore guard Achraf Yacoubou untied it with three that gave Villanova a 56 – 53 lead with 3:57 on the clock. Junior guard James Bell hit one from deep at the 3:01 mark as the Wildcats moved ahead by 6 points. The Wildcats sustained it by making 14 of 16 free throws over the last 2:08 of the game. Villanova did it as a team as five different players were involved in going to the line at the end of the game.
“We’re getting used to this now,” said freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono who had a team-high 15 points for the Wildcats. “We focused on Louisville ands we broke through. We know each other and played a full forty minutes. When they got the lead, we got close as a team.”
Louisville can point to their shortcomings at the free throw line as a cause of defeat. Villanova converted 22 of 29 free throws. Louisville was 12 of 24 from the stripe, 7 of 18 in the second half.
Turnovers have been a problem for Villanova, but they were not a killer. The Wildcats finished with 19 turnovers, but Louisville had 17 and only a 19 – 15 advantage in Points Off Turnovers.
“Turnovers don’t bother us,” said Wright. We’re used to it. I wasn’t worried about that. We did a better job of attacking the press.”
The Wildcats had four players in addition to Arcidiacono score in double figures. Senior center Mouphtaou Yarou, sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard, and sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston each scored 11 points.Bell contributed 10 points. Forward Wayne Blackshear scored a game-high 17 points and guard Peyton Siva put in 15 points.
The win breaks a three game losing streak for Villanova who improves to 12 – 7 on the season and are an even 3 – 3 in the Big East. The WIldcats prepare for a rematch with Syracuse on Saturday.
“This was a great win for us,” Wright said. “We know how good they are. That win means so much to us.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian