On Wednesday night in Morgantown, the Villanova Wildcats fizzled late in an 83-69 loss to the Mountaineers of West Virginia. With the loss, Nova drops to 7-6 overall (0-1 BE), while the host Mountaineers improve to 10-3 (1-0 BE). Surprisingly, Dominic Cheek led the way for the Cats with 20 points on 8-15 from the floor; he also contributed 6 boards. Maalik Wayns also scored 20, but on a dismal 7-19 shooting. In addition, to go along with his 7 assists, Wayns turned the rock over 6 times. For the opponents, Daryl “Truck” Bryant lit up the Wildcats for 34 points, while Kevin Jones poured in 13 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.
The game started out as a seesaw affair, with each team clinging to a 1 or 2 possession lead through the first ten minutes. Every time the Cats tried to take over the lead, they were unable to get a defensive stop, which enabled the ‘Eers to hold a 6 point edge on a few occasions. At the intermission, the home squad maintained a 40-36 lead over the visiting Wildcats.
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Villanova emerged from the locker room break energized, as they opened the second stanza on a 9-1 run, which gave Nova a brief 4 point advantage. After West Virginia rallied back to knot the contest up, the game was back and forth until five minutes were left on the clock. With the score tied at 63, Bryant and Gary Browne led WVU on a 16-4 run to put the young Villanova squad away for good. The Cats only scored a total of 6 points over the final five minutes of the game.
Most Nova fans will probably look at this game as a positive one overall, pointing to Cheek’s performance and the ability of the Cats to battle for 35 minutes in a hostile environment. It’s hard to disagree with that assessment, but the flaws cannot be overlooked. If Nova could’ve got a few defensive stops in the first half, I really think this game is completely different. They had WVU on their heels, but couldn’t come up with any clutch defensive possessions. At halftime, I reminded myself that if the game continued to be high scoring, Villanova would not stand a chance. In reality, this Wildcat team is not going to shoot well for forty minutes, as they have been inconsistent all year. They kept up for 35 minutes, but couldn’t maintain that shooting down the stretch. Although closer than the score indicates, still a loss nonetheless, with a very tough game up next at Marquette on New Year’s Day.