On Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome, the Villanova Wildcats lost to the Syracuse Orange by a score of 72-61. Although the score might indicate otherwise, the young Wildcats went toe to toe with Cuse until the last 5 or so minutes of the second half. Leading the way for the Orange was CJ Fair with 22 points, 5 boards, and 4 blocks. For Villanova, JayVaughn Pinkston was the high scorer with 12 points, while Mouphtaou Yarou notched 11 points and 14 rebounds. Nova turned the ball over 16 times, shot 31% from the field, and 22% from downtown.
Both teams were very sloppy and ice cold from the field over the first ten minutes of the contest, as the score was tied at 8 by the second media timeout. Neither squad held more than a 5 point advantage in the first stanza, and the Cats went into the break up a deuce, 29-27.
With a potential upset on their minds, the Cats continued to play tough even though Syracuse made a few spurts to take a slight lead. With ten minutes remaining in the game and the Orange leading by 3, Syracuse used a 15-4 run, capped by two Trevor Cooney treys to blow the game open. Nova tried to mount a comeback by cutting the deficit to 6 with 2 minutes left, but turnovers and poor shooting proved to be too much to overcome in a tough environment.
For an inexperienced Villanova team, this was a step in the right direction. Nobody wants to lose, but did anyone expect the Cats to be close in this contest late in the second half? The team clearly needs to cut down on their turnovers, which has plagued them all season, but you have to like the competitiveness they showed against one of the best teams in the nation in their arena. Nova returns to action on Wednesday night at 7 PM when they take on Pittsburgh at the Pavilion.