On Saturday night in West Long Branch, New Jersey, the Villanova Wildcats defeated the Monmouth Hawks by a score of 83-56. Nova put up a balanced scoring effort with 4 players in double figures. Leading the way was JayVaughn Pinkston, as the sixth man notched 16 points and 8 assists. James Bell scored 15 points, including 4 three pointers, while Tony Chennault and Darrun Hilliard recorded 11 and 10 points, respectively. As a whole, the Cats shot 54% from the field, 68% from downtown, 81% from the charity stripe, and had 12 steals on the night.
Although both squads shot well in the first half, it was an ugly opening stanza as the teams combined for 25 turnovers, 16 for the Hawks and 9 for the Wildcats. You won't see 25 turnovers in one half too often in a college game, but Nova actually was able to put up 44 points by intermission, mostly because they made 7 three pointers and hit 13 of 17 free throws. The Cats led by 15 at the break.
The double digit Nova advantage quickly dwindled to 8 a few minutes into the second half as the Cats were sloppy with the ball on their first couple of possessions. After a timeout by Jay Wright, Villanova responded with a big run over the next several minutes, which helped grow the lead to twenty plus with 12 minutes remaining. The rest of the second half was a cake walk as the Hawks never mounted any sort of comeback.
Villanova did exactly what they had to do against a much inferior opponent; get up early, hold off that one potential rally, and then put the game well out of reach. Heading into conference play after the New Year, Nova has to take better care of the ball. Twenty turnovers may not be a big factor in a contest against Monmouth, but Big East teams will capitalize on the majority of those turnovers.
After the Christmas holiday, Villanova returns to action on Friday December 28th at home vs. the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), which wraps up the Wildcats' non-conference schedule.