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postGame: Villanova 60 Seton Hall 57

Game ended approximately 10:10 PM eastern time.  Villanova Wildcats defeat Seton Hall Pirates 60-57.  Some notes on the game are below.

-Before the fans could settle into their seats for this contest at the Prudential Center, Jeremy Hazell drilled a three eight seconds in.  Seton Hall extended their lead to 9-4, but the Villanova freshman James Bell responded with 5 quick points to knot the game with fifteen minutes left.

-As Jeremy Hazell continued to pour in points for the Hall, Corey Fisher, Mouphtaou Yarou, and the aforementioned Bell each knocked down a variety of shots to make it a seesaw affair.  At the seven minute mark, the Cats held a slim 1 point edge, 23-22.

-Villanova was able to extend the lead to 6, their largest advantage of the half, but they couldn't score the last few possessions.  With the Nova offense sputtering, the Pirates answered with a 6 point run to tie the game heading into the break.  Hazell had 16 points in the first half.

-Halftime score: Villanova 28 Seton Hall 28

More on the game after The Jump.

-The sluggish end to the first half for the Cats continued early in the second stanza with a couple of empty possessions, but the Pirates weren't reallly able to capitalize as they could only gain a slight 3 point edge. 

-Antonio Pena finally got into the scoring action with 6 points to spark Villanova on a 13-4 run.  The 41-35 lead for the visitors was quickly erased though by the Pirates as a result of some sloppy play by the Wildcats.  At the second media timeout, the contest was tied at 41 all. 

-With the game in the balance, the teams traded a couple of buckets, but it was Bell again who burned the Pirates. Bell's 2 threes over a two minute stretch gave the Wildcats a 54-46 lead with just over six minutes left in the game. 

-Seton Hall was not exactly lighting it up on offense, but Villanova was trying to give the game to the Pirates through a slew of unforced turnovers.  The subsequent easy Pirate buckets cut their deficit to 2 with just under two minutes left in the game.  A James Bell bucket was answered by a pair of Herb Pope free throws, and on the next possession, Corey Fisher turned it over, leaving Seton Hall down 2 with forty seconds remaining.  Jeremy Hazell missed a tough shot in the lane, which was rebounded by Antonio Pena, who was then fouled.  He made 1 of 2 free throws, which gave the Hall a chance with ten seconds left, but Hazell could not connect on a three at the buzzer to tie the game, and the Cats escaped Newark with a much needed victory.

-Stats-wise, James Bell led the way off the bench with 21 crucial points, including 4 three pointers.  Antonio Pena had a solid game, posting a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.  Corey Fisher chipped in 12 points, but he did have 6 turnovers, as did Maalik Wayns.  As a team, Villanova had 20 turnovers.  For Seton Hall, Jeremy Hazell scored a game-high 25 points on 9-22 shooting, and he also had 4 steals.  Jordan Theodore had 10 points and 4 assists off the bench. 

-General observations:

  • We said someone needed to step up in the absence of Corey Stokes, and James Bell did just that and more.  Without him tonight, the Cats would've gotten run out of the building, because Fisher and Wayns didn't play all that well.  Hopefully, Bell can use this as a springboard heading down the stretch of Big East conference play.
  • The game tonight, just like the Pitt loss, shows how much this team misses Corey Stokes.  I definitely think he should be shut down with his injury, so he can get fully healthy for when it really counts, but the Cats are struggling without him.  There was no fluidity on offense whatsoever, and the 20 turnovers were an absolute disaster, especially with 12 of them coming from Wayns and Fisher. 
  • Again, Villanova shows yet again that they lack the killer instinct.  They probably could've put the Pirates away at the end of the first half if they finished strong and extended their 6 point lead, but instead, they let Seton Hall gain the momentum right back going into half.  Then, with the Cats up 8 and six minutes left, they should have realized that a few more buckets and defensive stops would ice the game.  Just like the first half, Nova allowed the Hall to close the gap quite quickly and make it a nailbiter in the end.
  • Not a terrible job on Hazell by the Villanova defense, considering he came out on fire.  He had 16 at half, but only finished with 25 and made just 9 of 22 attempts from the field.  Unlike the Rutgers game, they didn't let a sharpshooter beat them in the last minute, which is all that matters.
  • It was not a pretty game, but in this league, chalking up the W's is the goal, especially on the road.  This team desperately needed a win after last week's losses, regardless of how they secured the victory.  Survive and advance in this league.