Villanova is the Big 5 Champion.
Behind 24 points by Corey Stokes, the Wildcats defeated Temple 78-74 on Thursday night en route to claiming the Philadelphia Big 5 title.
But it was sophomore Maalik Wayns' play down the stretch that carried 'Nova to the victory. His 6 free throws in the final 2 minutes sealed the game for the #8 ranked 'Cats who now move to 11-1 on the year and head into Big East Conference play.
Despite being up by 10 points with 13 minutes to go in the game, Villanova could never put Temple away. The Owls stayed in the game and tied the score at 60, then took a brief 2-point lead with 8:20 remaining.
Three missed shots by Temple and 3 made buckets by Villanova saw the 'Cats claim a lead which they held onto until the final buzzer. Villanova head coach Jay Wright noted after the game, "Both teams showed character. We just kept scrapping. Both teams wouldn’t give in, not on a rebound, not on a free throw."
Mouphtaou Yarou added 14 points for 'Nova and Antonio Pena led the Wildcats on the boards with 9 rebounds.
The win was Villanova's 43rd consecutive victory at The Pavilion and snapped Temple's 6-game winning streak.
Villanova starts up conference play on Sunday as they host Rutgers at The Pavilion.
- Having lost its only prior game against a top 25 team (Tennessee), the Cats looked like a #8 team last night and enter the Big East season with some momentum and a quality win.
- Nova’s seniors have never lost at The Pavilion, extending the win streak there to 43 games
- In winning the Big Five Championship, Nova has won 25 of its last 27 Big Five games
- The Wildcats' press and 1-2-2 three-quarter-court trap was very effective, particularly in the second half, wearing Temple down and leading to several Temple turnovers and only 30% shooting in the period.
- Corey Stokes is emerging as the star we have expected, showing heart and intensity reminiscent of Dwayne Anderson, and a great shooting touch. For the season, Stokes is shooting 47% from the field, 43% from beyond the arc, and 95% from the free-throw line.
- While Corey Fisher had a disappointing game, Maalik Wayns had one of the best games of his career, scoring 21 points (6-14, 9-9 from the free throw line), 8 assists, and 4 steals.
- Mouph had moments offensively that made us cringe, but he had an overall strong game, scoring 14 points (6-10) and grabbing 4 rebounds.
- Three-point shooting remains a concern. The Cats shot only 31% on the evening – Stokes went 5-8, but the rest of the team went 0-8.
- Free-throw shooting remains a strength for the Cats, who shot 79% for the game
- For the first time this season, three players were in foul trouble -- Pena, Fisher and Cheek, with four fouls each.
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