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postGame: Rutgers 77 Villanova 76

Game ended approximately 10:09 PM eastern time.  Rutgers Scarlet Knights defeat Villanova Wildcats 77-76.  Some notes on the game are below.

-At the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), both teams were sloppy early on, with a variety of unforced turnovers disrupting the flow of the game.  Corey Fisher was sharp though, pouring in 5 points and stealing the ball 3 times through the initial nine minutes.  With 11:27 left, the Wildcats led 15-11.

-Solid offensive rebounding by the Scarlet Knights allowed for some extra possessions and easy second chance opportunities to keep the contest tight.  Villanova finally got into rhythm though, especially sharpshooter Corey Stokes, who hit a few much needed treys.  As the Cats extended their lead to 9 with just under six minutes remaining, a heated Mike Rice was forced to call timeouts within a minute of each other.

-As Corey Fisher controlled much of the action for the visitors in the opening stanza, Maalik Wayns started to show his penetration skills late in the first half, setting up his teammates for open jumpers.  By half, the duo combined for a stellar 8 assists, but Rutgers was still in the game, trailing by a manageable 7 points. 

-Halftime score: Villanova 35 Rutgers 28

More on the game after jump... 

-A quick Fisher bomb from downtown out of the locker room extended the Villanova lead to double digits, but the RAC grew louder as the Scarlet Knights responded with a 7 point run to cut the deficit to a one possession game. 

-The mini runs continued, with Villanova going on a 6 point streak to regain the momentum.  That momentum was quickly disspelled Rutgers got right back in the game through some easy points in the paint.  With ten minutes and change left, the good guys led only 53-49. 

-Through the first thirty minutes, the pesky Scarlet Knights, like they usually do, hung tough.  With the game in the balance though, a host of Wildcats, including James Bell just off the bench, drilled numerous shots over a five minute stretch.  As a result, Nova's lead grew to what looked like a comfortable 13 point lead. 

-A double digit advantage with 2:45 remaining seemed to make for an easy victory, but it turned into a nailbiter when the Cats forgot how to inbound the ball.  Consecutive turnovers sparked an 8-0 run for Rutgers and all of a sudden, it was a 2 point game with ninety seconds left.  As the clock ticked below a minute, James Bell drilled a three as the shot clock sounded to put the Cats up 5 with sixteen seconds left.  A porous Villanova defense allowed Rutgers' James Beatty to drive right down the court and sink a three.  Corey Fisher was promptly fouled, and he only hit 1 of 2 free throws, meaning Nova was up 3 with five seconds remaining.  Then, Jonathan Mitchell took the inbounds, raced the length of the court, pulled up and hit a 3 while getting fouled by Fisher with one second to go.  Mitchell sank the free throw to pull off the shocking upset of the #9 Wildcats.

-In terms of statistics, Corey Fisher scored 23 points, dished out 10 assists, and had 5 steals before his last second blunders.  Antonio Pena was 7-10 from the field, scoring 15 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.  Mouphtaou Yarou and Corey Stokes both contributed 10 points.  For Rutgers, the hero Jonathan Mitchell notched 25 points and 6 rebounds.  Gilvydas Biruta played a stellar game too, putting up 9 points and 9 clutch boards. 

-General observations:

  • Only 2 thoughts crossed my mind after this one- a) was this worse than the Mets collapse in 2007 (yes, I am a Mets fan) and b) if that loss doesn't get Villanova fired up for Saturday, I don't know what will.