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'Nova Narrowly Avoids Upset to La Salle

AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr.

No. 12 Villanova avoided disaster in front of 4,000 screaming fans at Tom Gola Arena, overcoming a 1-14 shooting drought over the first seven minutes to escape with an 84-81 victory over the Explorers. Maalik Wayns scored 19 points on 8-15 shooting and made a critical go-ahead layup with 1:09 left.

Villanova tied the game at 28 points with 5:11 remaining and led 38-37 at half time.

The Explores went up by eight points with 7:25 remaining in the game, but the Cats went on a 12-2 run to take a 78-76 lead with 3:06 left. Cheek capped the run with consecutive 3-pointers. With the Explorers leading 79-78, Wayns completed a three point play the old fashioned way when he was fouled on a driving layup, giving the Cats a 81-79 lead with 1:09 left. After the teams exchanged free throws and the Cats leading 84-81, Maurice Sutton blocked Sam Mills' 3-point attempt with four seconds left. La Salle recovered the ball in time for Mills to attempt one final desperation 3-point attempt from 33 feet, which clanged off the rim as time expired.

Villanova's seniors -- Fisher, Stokes and Pena -- combined for 45 points. Yarou grabbed 9 rebounds, but had 4 turnovers and shot only 1-5 from the field. Corey Fisher had 8 assists vs. 4 turnovers, but shot only 3-11 from the field. La Salle's Jerell Williams led all scorers with 20 points.

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VILLANOVA BOX SCORE

FG 3Pt Reb Ast TO Stl Blk PF Pts
Wayns 8-15 0-2 4 2 4 2 0 2 19
Stokes 4-8 4-8 2 3 2 3 2 2 16
Fisher 3-11 1-3 1 8 4 1 0 1 16
Cheek 4-7 4-7 5 0 2 1 0 1 14
Pena 4-7 0-0 5 2 2 2 0 2 13
Yarou 1-5 0-0 9 1 4 0 1 4 6
Bell 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Sutton 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0 2 2 0
Armwood 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
Totals 24-53 9-20 27 16 18 10 5 15 84
Percentages: 0.453 0.45