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Final: Pinkston, Bell Power Cats Past The Hall 84-76

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After another 2 game losing streak, the Villanova Wildcats reversed their fortunes tonight at the Pavilion with a 84-76 win against the Seton Hall Pirates. Only 6 players scored for the home team, but Maalik Wayns (25 pts), JayVaughn Pinkston (23 pts), and James Bell (18 pts) did enough damage to earn a 2nd Big East victory.

Wayns was 15-16 from the free throw line, and he also dished out 7 assists and grabbed 5 boards. Pinkston notched a double-double, as he rebounded the ball 11 times to go along with his double figure scoring output. Shooting well from the outside was James Bell; he converted 4-8 from downtown. The Pirates had 4 players put up 10+ points, including Fuquan Edwin, Jordan Theodore, Herb Pope, and Brandon Mobley. With the win, Villanova improves to 9-10 (2-5 BE), while Seton Hall falls to 15-4 (4-3 BE).

The game started off back and forth, as each team tried to find their way to put up an early run. Halfway through the opening twenty minutes, it was Villanova who broke through with stellar offensive possessions each time down. The Cats teetered with an 8-10 point edge throughout the remainder of the half, and eventually, led 37-28 at the break.

More after The Jump.

Seton Hall, looking for their 16th win on the year, quickly cut the Nova lead to a one possession game with fifteen minutes remaining. As the Pirates tried to take their first lead since the first few minutes of the contest, they could not keep Villanova from making it to the foul line (in total, the Cats scored 34 points from the charity stripe). With Nova trying to extend their lead and put the game away, Seton Hall made one last run, but that was quickly silenced by a clutch James Bell trey ball with less than five minutes left on the clock. The Villanova edge grew to double digits after they sank some more free throws to salt the game away.

For a team that hasn't seen much go right this year, this is one of the bigger wins for Jay Wright's squad. Seton Hall has been playing good ball, exemplified by their wins over West Virginia and UConn, so certainly a good confidence builder for the Cats. Getting to the line 41 times is very impressive for this bunch, and even more impressive is knocking down 34 of those attempts.

Villanova is obviously not a very good jump shooting team, so getting points at the free throw line is crucial. It also shows they are not settling for jump shots, rather the Cats are attacking the rim. On an individual level, we have seen the maturation of Pinkston all year, and now, he is really starting to be a huge factor on a consistent basis. A double-double in the Big East is no small feat.

And where has Bell been for the last month or so? Nice to see him get some major minutes and produce accordingly. On a side note, props to referee Gene Steratore, who officiated Saturday night's Broncos-Patriots game and then is on the hardwood a few days later. Up next for Villanova is St. John's on Saturday afternoon at the Garden.