In a game that was extremely close the entire way, Villanova pulled out to a lead in the fourth quarter on a pair of Mouph Yarou free-throws and managed to hold on to win, 94-92. After leading 56-45 at the half, Israel chipped away and climbed into the lead in the third quarter. The game remained close throughout the second half, and the Israelis had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but David Blu's three-point shot was off the mark.
The 'Cats were lead by Dominic Cheek who finished with 34 points on 15-19 shooting, including 24 points in the first half and all three of his attempts from beyond the arc.. Yarou added 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting and 12 boards while Maalik Waynsadded 17 points despite being limited to just 22:21 minutes of play.
"I didn’t go into this game thinking about putting up a lot of shots. I went into it trying to play Villanova Basketball, play defense and help my team get the win," Cheek told the media. "I was going to do what my teammates needed me to do."
"Coach Wright told us at halftime that this is an experienced team that would make a run at us. He told us to just play Villanova Basketball and not to give in. The most important thing was for us to play 40 minutes and I thought we did that."
"At the end of the game I thought our defense was great. It helped us a lot after we fell behind."
Wayns picked up his fourth foul late in the third quarter and was forced to the bench for much of the fourth. With a little over four-minutes left, Jay Wright inserted his star guard back into the line-up when the Israelis connected on a pair of free-throws to break a tie score.
Darrun Hilliard played 31:59 minutes, thanks in a large part to Wayns' absence. He finished the game with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. JayVaughn Pinkston scored 4 points while showing some passing skill to set up teammates late in the game.
Villanova took the lead for good on a Pinkston basket that put Villanova ahead 89-87 with a minute and a half left to play.
With Omri Casspi out with a knee injury, Lior Eliyahu lead Israel, scoring 20 points against the 'Cats. David Blu added 18 points for the Israelis.
The 'Cats overall shot 63.6% from the floor and were about as strong (7-of-11) from beyond the arc. In addition to Cheek's perfect performance from deep, Maalik Wayns also connected on both of his attempts from 3. Israel could not keep up with the 'Cats pace, shooting just 50% from the floor and 31.4% on 3-point attempts.
Despite the hot shooting, Darrun Hilliard's three assists and Yarou's one were the only assists credited on the score-sheet. The Cats were also charged with a whopping 22 turnovers.
"I thought our young guys did a tremendous job against a tough, veteran team that spreads you out defensively," Jay Wright claimed. "To bounce back from our games earlier this week was a great show of character by this young group. The young guys, particularly Darrun and JayVaughn, made huge plays for us down the stretch with Maalik out of the game."
"What can you say about Dominic Cheek? He was awesome. Against a great offensive team like Israel you have to be able to score and there were times he carried us on offense. I thought Mouphtaou Yarou was a warrior inside for us."
The 'Cats will take on the Netherlands tomorrow at 2:00pm Eastern.
---------------------------------SCORING SUMMARY (Minutes in parantheses)
WAYNS (22:21): 6-11 from the field; 2-2 from 3-point; 3-5 FT shooting; 2 rebounds; 1 steal; 5 turnovers; 17 points.
YAROU (33:22): 7-11 from the field; 0-0 from 3-point; 8-9 FT shooting; 12 rebounds (four offensive); 1 assist; five turnovers; 1 steal; 22 points.
CHEEK (36:13): 15-19 from the field; 3-3 from 3-point; 1-1 FT shooting; 4 rebounds (1 offensive); 1 steal; 34 points.
BELL (17:58): 1-3 from the field; 1-2 from 3-point; 0-2 FT shooting; 2 rebounds (0 offensive); 3 turnovers; 3 points.
ARMWOOD (16:58): 1-3 from the field; 0-0 from 3-point; 2-2 FT shooting; 1 rebound (1 offensive); 1 turnover; 4 points.
HILLIARD (31:59): 3-6 from the field; 1-4 from 3-point; 1-1 FT shooting; 6 rebounds; 3 assists; two steals; 3 turnovers; 8 points.
KENNEDY (7:09): 0-0 from the field; 0-0 from 3-point; 0-0 FT shooting; 0 rebounds; 0 points.
PINKSTON (26:32): 1-1 from the field; 0-0 from 3-point; 2-5 FT shooting; 1 rebound (0 offensive); 4 points.
YACOUBOU (5:32): 0-0 from the field; 0-0 from 3-point; 0-0 FT shooting; 1 rebound (0 offensive); 0 points.
SUTTON (1:56): 1-1 from the field; 0-0 from 3-point; 0-1 FT shooting; 0 rebounds; 2 points.
Villanova Totals: 35-of-55 FG (.636); 7-of-11 from 3-point (.636); 17-of-26 FT shooting (.654); 29 rebounds (six offensive); 4 assists; 22 turnovers; 5 steals; 0 blocked shots; 94 points.
Israel Totals: 36-of-72 FG (.500); 11-of-35 from 3-point (.314); 9-of-10 FT shooting (.900); 30 rebounds (12 offensive); 17 assists; 15 turnovers; 11 steals; 1 blocked shot; 92 points.
Israel Scoring Leaders: Lior Eliyahu 20 points (9-13 from the field, 0-1 from 3-point); David Blu (7-of-14 from the field, 3-7 from 3-point); Tal Barstein 12 points (5-11 from the field, 1-7 from 3-point)
For a recap of what happened in the game, you can check out our archived chat: Villanova vs. Israel