Although it's finals week on campus, the students packed the Pavilion as usual to see their Wildcats return to action. The Villanova Wildcats looked to rebound after their big loss to the Oklahoma Sooners. They did just that, winning the Big 5 matchup 76-47 against La Salle Explorers.
"Really happy with our effort tonight. Real good defensive effort, especially on Jordan [Price]. If you put too much emphasis on him, he can get everyone else going, and you can get in trouble. But I thought Phil Booth did a good job on him, and sometimes we brought someone else to help him. One of our best rebounding games too."
The Wildcats grabbed 34 board tonight, a bit below their team average, however they won the rebounding battle as the Explorers only had 23. La Salle missed 35 shots tonight, and combined with the few rebounds they could not make many opportunities for themselves.
Jordan Price lead his team with 16 points on 6-17 shooting.
Both sides started off sloppy this game and failed to truly establish a rhythm. The Explorers committed 7 turnovers to the Wildcats' 8 in the first half alone. `Nova entered the game averaging just 9 turnovers an outing. The schools were more poised in the second half, coughing up the ball a combined 9 times. Daniel Ochefu picked up a foul just 56 seconds into the game, but he stayed at one personal foul at the half. His presence helped Tony Washington stay scoreless at the half. Washington sat on the bench for some time after picking up two quick fouls himself, and this allowed Villanova to drive to the hoop.
La Salle shot just 32% in the first half, while Villanova was a much more successful 56%. The Explorers crept within two possessions early in the game, however they went one for their next five. This allowed the Wildcats to extend the lead to 12, thanks to Arcidiacono jumpers and a monster Ochefu dunk.
To say Villanova suffered from beyond the arc against the Oklahoma is an understatement; the `Cats converted on just 4 of their 32 attempts. Tonight they shot 5-12 in the first half and an even better 9-13 from within. They had 13 assists on their 14 made field goals in the first half.
Wright said the reason they lost was more of the little things, not the 4-23. "I know everyone sees 4-32, but believe it or not that was the least of it. Maybe we don't win that game, but we're right in it until the end if we do the little things. And we didn't do any little things. I think our guys learned a lesson from that. I'm talking about attention to detail from our scouting report. Boxing out on rebounds, making the extra pass. We did all those better tonight.
Rebounding also improved as they outrebounded the Explorers 16-11 at the half. Daniel Ochefu lead with 5 and Darryl Reynolds grabbed 4 boards.
The second half was more success by the `Cats.They held a 15-point lead at halftime and their lead never dipped below that in the second half. The 4-32 absolutely sticks out to a fan, but in the first half tonight Villanova
"Their passing, shooting and spacing are at another level" said La Salle coach John Giannini. Villanova had 24 assists on their 28 made field goals. The Wildcats average 16 APG.
Jalen Brunson, Ryan Arcidiacono, Phil Booth, Bridges and Hart all entered double digits, with Hart leading all scoring with 18.
"We really didn't play the way we usually play in Hawaii," Arch said after the game. "Getting back here, we had a couple great practices this week getting back to what we do. Trying to play defense and play off each other." Coach Giannini added that he "wanted to keep Villanova under 70 points" to have a shot at winning, and while 76 is not far off of that goal, the Wildcats defense rippled obvious frustrations on both sides of the ball for La Salle.
Donte Divincenzo did not enter this game, and was seen on the bench wearing a suit. Jay said after the game "Donte has a serious foot injury. We took a look at it, and it's definitely serious enough to miss this game and probably Virginia. We're trying to get another look to see how serious it is."
La Salle fell to 4-4 and 0-2 in Big 5 play. Villanova is now 8-1, 2-0 in Big 5 play.
Villanova's next game is Saturday 12:00pm at Virginia. The game will be on ESPN2.