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Villanova ends 2011 with a bitter loss

Truck Bryant lit Villanova up for a career-high 34 points and the Wildcats took a 14 point loss at West Virginia after managing to keep the score close for most of the game. Neither team really had control of the game until West Virginia managed to pull away late, capitalizing on some untimely mistakes and foul trouble to convert a battle into an 83-69 blowout.

Dominic Cheek accounted for all three of the Wildcat's 3-point scores tonight on his way to 20 points which tied Maalik Wayns to lead the team. Mouphtaou Yarou also chipped in 13 points and 8 rebounds to help the cause.

No other Wildcats would score more than 6 points, most netting just one or two field goals.

Wayns dished out 7 of the team's 12 assists and was able to grab 2 steals, but he turned the ball over 6 times in the process. Villanova turned the ball over a total of 15 times in a game where the Mountaineers only coughed the ball up 7 times. The Wildcats had their pockets picked 9 times.

While the 'Eers shot poorly in the first half — just 42% from the field and 25% from deep at the intermission — they turned into a far more efficient machine in the second half. They ended the game shooting 46.9% from the field and 38.1% from deep. Bryant made 4 of 10 from 3, most of those makes coming in the second half. Meanwhile, Darby-native Aaron Brown connected on 2 of 3 from deep, scoring 8 points and stealing the ball a team-leading 3 times.

Maalik Wayns fouled out late in the game while Yarou and James Bell both finished the game with 4 fouls. Once the foul count started to creep in West Virginia's favor, the Mountaineer's began to expand their lead rapidly. In the first half, the fouling favored the Wildcats, with just 8 whistles going against the 'Cats and 10 being blown against the Mountaineers. At full time, however, the 'Cats had accrued 21 personal fouls and the Mountaineers had just 16.

Though it looked like the second half would be Villanova's half for a brief moment after the restart, the last few minutes of the game shifted things greatly in WVU's favor. Even without Deniz Kilicli (foul trouble) and Kevin Jones (eye laceration) for periods of time, the Mountaineers were able to charge ahead. Kilicli and Jones scored 10 and 13 points respectively and combined for 15 rebounds despite each missing portions of the second half.

Villanova allowed WVU to score about 1.17 points per possession in the first half, a number that ballooned to 1.32 in the second, while scoring just 1.03 points per possession themselves. The 'Cats offense was slightly less efficient in the second half, but their defense was notably less efficient late.

Points Per Possession (67 Poss.)
First Half Second Half Game
Villanova 1.05 1.01 1.03
West Virginia 1.17 1.32 1.24

Chalk it up to turnovers and fouls, call them youthful mistakes or look at the bright side of how it was so close for so long. Any way you cut it, the only score that matters is the final one, and 83-69 is ugly. Villanova has now lost five of its last 6 games in Morgantown, West Virginia and has opened Big East play with a disappointing late-game collapse.

Both statistics ( and VUhoops readers gave West Virginia about a 75% chance of winning this game, so the result should not be surprising. The Wildcats, however, will enter 2012 still having a lot of questions to answer.