NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 26: Dominic Cheek #23 of the Villanova Wildcats celebrates a basket against the Tennessee Volunteers during the Championship game at Madison Square Garden on November 26 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Israeli national basketball team by the score of 94-92 today in the first game of EuroJam 2011 behind strong performances from Dominic Cheek and Mouphtaou Yarou. The 'Cats barely held on to an 11-point halftime lead after Maalik Wayns suffered through foul trouble for much of the game.
Cheek led the way with 34 points on 15-19 shooting (!!!!!!) and Mouph tallied 22 points and 12 boards (!!!!!). Yarou went 7-11 from the field (!!!!!!) and 8-9 from the FT line (!!!!!!). That's beast-mode for both of those guys. If they can keep that up, this season may have some higher expectations. Cheek on his outing:
"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. I was going to do what my teammates needed me to do."
Maalik Wayns battled foul trouble all night, but still managed 17 points in just 22 minutes. His 6-11 from the floor was much more efficient than his last game out where he went 6-17. In his stead, Darrun Hilliard filled in admirably. Is it time to raise expectations for him? He played 31 minutes, including a ton at the PG spot, and finished with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
As a team, 'Nova shot 35-55 (64%) and 7-11 from behind the arc, including a perfect 5-5 from Cheek and Wayns.
JayVaughn Pinkston hit a free throw in the waning moments to give 'Nova their final 2 point lead, and finished with 4 points on the night.
Quotes from Wright and Cheek after The Jump, as well as the box score.
"It sounds crazy to say this in August, but that was a great basketball game and a great win for us. I thought our young guys did a tremendous job against a tough, veteran team that spreads you out defensively."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"I think these games will help us in the long run get five guys to play together as one."
Box Score (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);