VILLANOVA, PA. 1/6/2016 – After scoring 95 and 85 points in their last two games the #11/13 Villanova Wildcats were bound to run into a game where the offense would not be in such a flow. The Seton Hall Pirates provided such a game. The Wildcats would have to win this game the hard way; defense and free throw shooting. They did and Nova improves to 13 – 2 overall and 3 – 0 in the Big East with a 72 – 63 win over Seton Hall in front of 6,500 at the Pavilion in what can be described as a typical Big East game.
“It was a tough, old-school Big East game,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “Ugly to watch, ugly to coach, but you have to grind those out and find ways to win. I don’t know if our young guys were ready for that, but we’ll learn.”
Counting on the defense especially in the first half where the Wildcats limited the Pirates to 28% shooting (7 of 25). Villanova only made 10 of 31 in the initial half, and made only 2 of 14 from deep in holding 30 – 23 lead at intermission.
“I told the guys that I was pleased with our first half defense, really pleased,” said Wright. “Regardless of what we did on offense, I thought we could grind it out in the second half. We didn’t put it together, but our defense and rebounding in the first half prevented us from being down.”
Both teams loosened up in the second half won by Villanova 42 – 40. For the game the Wildcats made 21 of 58 from the floor, but only 4 of 22 from beyond the arc. Seton Hall was 21 of 59 (35.6%).
The charity stripe was a friend to Nova as they converted 26 of 32, more free throws than field goals.
The offense on the floor was provided by Wildcat center Daniel Ochefu who scored 20 points in the contest making 6 of 13 and 8 of 10 at the line. He also pulled down a game high 18 rebounds. The career-high of 24 boards for Ochefu came just over a year ago at Seton Hall.
“Daniel (Ochefu) is an experienced player,” said fellow senior Ryan Arcidiacono. “In games like this we make drives to the basket and try to get him easy baskets. He is improving his free throw shooting and is consistent with it.”
Josh Hart scored 15 points, all in the second half, pulled down 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season, and handed out a team-high 4 assists. Arcidiacono and Kris Jenkins added 11 points for Villanova.
“There are going to be nights where we’re not making shots and have to do other things,” said Wright.
Isaiah Whitehead led the Pirates (12 – 3, 2 – 1) with 20 points and Khadeen Carrington socred 14 points. Forward Angel Delgado came into the game with seven straight double-doubles. He was limited to 4 points and 4 rebounds.
Next for Villanova is a trip to Indianapolis to play Butler on Sunday. With this game behind them, the Bulldogs are the focus now.
Written By: Glenn Papazian