An early travel by prized forward Jerrelle Benimon set the mood for the rest of the game, as the Villanova Wildcats cruised past the Towson Tigers by a final score of 78-44. The Wildcats never trailed at any point.
James Bell led the scoring with 20, with JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono all adding double figure points of their own. A cold Ochefu shot 2-10 but added 8 rebounds, and did a fantastic job on defense throughout the game.
As mentioned, all eyes were on Jerrelle Benimon, a transfer from the Georgetown Hoyas. He would lead his team's scoring with just 11 points on 3-8 shooting. He turned the ball over 5 times, adding to the team's total of 24.
The 'Cats shot out to a 18-4 lead by the second media timeout. Turnovers proved to be a big obstacle for the Tigers to do anything offensively, as Villanova had a 20-point lead for much of the game. The 'Cats turned 24 of those turnovers into 27 points, while Towson turned the Wildcat's 10 TO's into only 1 point.
Many Villanovans felt anxious for this game after the Tiger's surprising win vs. the Temple Owls. In that game, Benimon scored 32 points on 11-24 shooting, while grabbing 10 boards. Many wondered if Pinkston or Ochefu would be enough to hault this seemingly unstoppable force. They were.
While Benimon's lack of performance equated to a big Nova lead, Coach Wright believes point guard Jerome Hairston's quick fouls in the first half were more to blame.
"Hairston gets three fouls in the first half, and they lose their point guard, and our press was effective," Wright explained. "I think that's what got us out to a big lead at halftime."
Hairston would finish with just 2 points on 1-6 shooting, adding just 1 assist.
We saw in the game vs. the Lafayette Leopards and the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers that if the Wildcats limit the opponent's 3-pointers, they would stay ahead. Today was no different. The Tigers would finish the day going 2-17 from the arc; 11.8%. Four McGlynn tallied both of those 3's, coming off of 7 attempts. Combine that with their 42.1% performance at the charity stripe, and it's hard to get any sort of offense going, even if you out-rebound 43-42.
The Tiger's second half symbolized just that. They added 24 points in the half, however shot 26.5% from the field and under 10% from the 3-point arc.
Wright echoed how important the full court press was after watching the Tiger's defeat Temple.
"When [the Tigers] get into their half-court set, as we all saw in the Temple game, they're really good. We were trapping, we were doing everything," he said.
The early full court press saw Towson turn the ball over 15 times by the 7:48 mark, compared to Villanova's 5.
Any doubt about Ryan Arcidiacono's ribs went out the window after today's effort. He did a great job pump faking many 3-point attempts to either dribble in for a short jumper or to pass it off to a teammate. He led the team with 29 minutes of playing time.
What surged the crowd for the rest of the game was a put-back dunk by James Bell on a missed 3-point shot by Josh Hart. Bell saw the ball the entire way and crashed the board in a way that reminded you about Iman Shumpert's explosive putback against the Indiana Pacers. Bell joked about why he went for such a play.
"Coach said at halftime that I didn't have any offensive rebounds," he said.
Bell finished with 4 total rebounds and 2 blocks.
Ochefu added 4 blocks of his own to the team's total 9, yet offensively he had little going. A majority of his 4 offensive rebounds came off of his own missed layup opportunities, and went a staggering 0-3 from the line. If the team wants Ochefu to be a presence down low, a lot of improvement is definitely needed.
To cap off a tremendous Wildcat day, the 5 sent out to the court for the remaining 2 minutes of playing time were Nick McMahon, Henry Lowe, Patrick Farrell, Darryl Reynolds, and Kris Jenkins. The crowd started chanting "We want Bench Mob!" around the 4 minute mark, and Coach listened.
There were scouts from 10 NBA teams in attendance this evening. They came for the Jerrelle Benimon show, yet the Wildcats gave them the James Bell show as well.
Villanova takes on the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens at the Pavilion on Friday, November 22nd. It will air on Fox Sports 1.