The Villanova Wildcats grinded out an early season win against Big 5 rivals La Salle Explorers 76-69 in overtime at The Pavilion. Here is the box score. Maalik Wayns (22 points, 9 rebounds), Dominic Cheek (18 points, 8 rebounds), Mouphtaou Yarou (10 points, 14 rebounds), James Bell (15 points and a couple of huge 3's) and yes, Maurice Sutton, were all outstanding at different key stretches for the 'Cats.
In one of the ugliest 1st half displays that I can remember (other than Mouph's rebounding prowess), Villanova somehow still found itself in the game despite going 0-12 from downtown and committing 4 or 5 offensive fouls (to be fair, a few were downright incorrect). Combine that with 13 turnovers and 5 freshman seeing action, and you had a recipe for disaster.
'Nova also had trouble containing Sam Mills, who at one point was 4-4 from beyond the arc to help stretch out La Salle's lead.
Despite all that went against them, Villanova used a 6-0 run in the closing seconds of the 1st half to cut the lead to 5 and trail 31-26 at the half.
More after The Jump.
The 'Cats started the second half brightly, quickly erasing the halftime deficit behind strong play from Mouph Yarou. But La Salle was resilient and eventually fought back to take a late 5 point lead with just a couple of minutes remaining. But then, 'Nova turned up the defense.
First, Maalik Wayns hit a HUGE 3 in transition that brought the house down and cut the La Salle lead to 2. Then, following a near-steal from Cheek, Darrun Hilliard cut into a passing lane beautifully and took it the distance for the lay-in to tie the game at 61 with about 45 seconds remaining.
Tyreek Duren, who was magnificent all game for the Explorers, had a chance at one end but was blocked and then Maalik Wayns had a chance as time wound down but was also blocked in traffic in the lane.
In overtime, it was all Villanova after a few misses at both ends by each team. Your hero of the overtime? Mo Sutton. Yes, Mo Sutton. I'll say it one more time - Mo Sutton was the player of the overtime, if there were such an award. His length caused La Salle fits on the offensive end as he guarded both big men and guards and his rebounding and tips proved decisive in sealing the win for 'Nova.
Wayns and Cheek combined to hit their FT's late (Wayns was 10-10 for the game and Cheek was 12-14) to lock down the win, and 'Nova was able to escape with a 76-69 win, sending The Pavilion crowd home happy.