From the pregame layup lines to the final buzzer, the Villanova Wildcats treated their exhibition contest against Division II opponent Nyack like a mid-season battle. Extremely active defense, buoyed by 12 steals, and a balanced offensive attack set the tone early for the Wildcats as they jumped out to a 48-22 lead at the half.
JayVaughn Pinkston and Darrun Hilliard led the way for Villanova in scoring, notching 15 points each for the afternoon.
In the end, the Wildcats offered too much size and intensity for their opponent, walking away with a 82-45 victory.
Nyack spread their scoring across the lineup, with no player registering double digit contributions. Sophomore Ezra Gaines and senior Khalid Samuels led the way with nine points each. The Warriors were ineffective in all facets of their game however, being held to 23% shooting from the floor and coughing up the ball on 20 occasions.
The Nyack Warriors opened the game looking to establish themselves against Villanova down low. Coach Jason Crafton made a concerted effort to get forward Will Robinson involved, feeding the Warriors' de facto center early and often. The sophomore big man managed an effective afternoon with 8 points, yet ultimately was outplayed Villanova's Daniel Ochefu.
Ochefu, as should be expected against a team lacking anyone on their roster above 6'6", dominated the the glass for the Wildcats. He ripped down a career high 20 rebounds, including 12 by the end of the first half. The junior also flashed an ever-improving post game--baby hooks and sweeping sky hooks across the lane seemed to be a priority for Ochefu this summer. If he can carry those moves into the regular season, watch out. And for those of you counting, that's a double-double in each contest so far.
Offensively, the Wildcats demonstrated solid floor spacing and ball movement. Crisp passes led to 19 assists on 31 made field goals. With so many shooters on the floor, the lanes were wide open for lead guards Ryan Arcidiacono and Dylan Ennis to attack. While 25 attempts from three point land may seem excessive, especially against a team so clearly outmatched in size, the majority of shots were free Nyack defenders. Still, shooting 16% when presented with such a physical advantage in the post is frustrating to see.
Villanova's production on offense was dominated by the starting lineup, where they accounted for 77 percent of the team's total. Darrun Hilliard did the heavy lifting early on, posting 13 points by the first half buzzer.
Overall, it was a relatively dominant performance for the Wildcats. Despite jumping out to a commanding lead, they kept their foot on the gas and heads in the game until a sloppy final four minutes.
Villanova will open the regular season Friday, November 14th against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks at the Allentown PPL Center.
- Dylan Ennis seems cemented into the starting lineup, and his play is certainly backing it up. The redshirt junior demonstrated an excellent balance of controlled athleticism and smart basketball for the Wildcats, attacking the defense off the dribble and taking the open three when it was given to him. Paired with his active defense, Ennis figures to be a consistent contributor this season.
- Hilliard showed once more that he's ready to make his senior season a memorable one for the Wildcats. He filled the box score across the board in only 22 minutes of action, contributing five assists and four steals to go along with his team-high 15 points.
- Ryan Arcidiacono had a wonderful showing against the Warriors. Playing both off the ball and on point, he seemed most concerned with getting his teammates involved through quick passes off penetration. In only 20 minutes, the junior guard posted 8 points (4-5 shooting), 4 assists, and an impressive 5 steals.
- The bench really struggled to get going this game. Josh Hart and Phil Booth, the first two men off the bench, shot a combined 3-16 from the floor. Booth's poor shooting carried over to the free throw line where he netted only one of his five attempts. For Hart, turnovers plagued his afternoon, giving the ball up six times.
- Kris Jenkins was absent from the game with left shoulder tendinitis. He is reportedly day-to-day.
- Darryl Reynolds logged an effective 16 minutes for the Wildcats. He seemed comfortable enough on offense and understanding of his defensive responsibilities. In the end, 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 rejections marked a very solid performance. He looks ready to contribute five effective minutes a night for Villanova this season.
- Subtract Phil Booth's 1-5 contribution, and Villanova shot 15-18 from the free throw line.
- Ochefu, Pinkston, and Reynolds, after clearing defensive rebound, had their heads up looking for the outlet pass. The Wildcats registered 15 fast break points compared to none for Nyack. Look for consistently high production from transition this season.