In what was a complete u-turn from a sloppy and somewhat frustrating opening night win over Bucknell, the Villanova Wildcats came out and stomped the Marist Red Foxes 84-47 in the 1st round of the Preseason NIT behind strong performances from sophomores Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek, and Maurice Sutton.
Wayns finished with a game-high 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. It was a scintillating game from the sophomore, and will probably restart conversations about an early move to the NBA, because he showed out in every facet of the game.
The bigger surprise was the emergence of Cheek and Sutton. Sutton was almost non-existent in the opening win, but played 22 minutes tonight (many more meaningful ones than you'd think) and put in 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. And 7-7 from the foul line!
The Villanova defense is beginning to reclaim it's roots as well. They held Marist to one player in double-digits points and below 50 points overall. The 'Nova guards were a handful on the perimeter helping to force 15 turnovers and Mouphtaou Yarou (looking like a handful already), Isaiah Armwood and Sutton all had at least 2 blocks.
The best part about tonight for me was the balance. 5 players in double-digit point points, with Antonio Pena and Corey Stokes recording 9 and 8, respectively. The distribution of minutes tells an even better story - all 8 active scholarship players played at least 20 minutes. And Russell Wooten got in (although a blank stat line - FOUL SOMEONE WOOTEN!).
Corey Fisher was the lone blemish tonight as his shot just wasn't on. He was 2-9 from the field and 1-5 from deep, but a perfect 5-5 from the line (the team was 18-21 overall).
All in all, a great win!
...Marist just couldn't hang tonight...they put in a good spell early in the game but then Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns took over on both ends of the floor...and that was all she wrote...still...good to see us dominate a weaker foe...
Villanova plays the winner of Boston U. Terriers and the George Washington Colonials in the 2nd round of the NIT, tomorrow night at 8 p.m.