Wildcats Hold Court Against Knights of the Round Ball, Win 71-63
The Villanova Wildcats took on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a Big East Conference game at the Pavilion on Tuesday night, February 18th. Villanova got off to a quick start with Ryan Arcidiacono hitting two treys and Mouphtaou Yarou adding six points in the early going to grab a 14-8 lead. The Wildcats then went ice cold and Rutgers got hot, or at least Sophomore guard Myles Mack did.
With Mack taking command, Rutgers went on a 23-7 run to close out the first half. Mack scored 14 points in a row to bring the Scarlet Knights from a 14-12 deficit to a 26-17 lead. At one point, Villanova missed 7 of 8 foul shots, including the front end of two one-and-ones.
The half ended with Rutgers ahead 31-21. Mack completed the first half with 16 points and 6 rebounds. For Villanova, Yarou had 8 points and 10 boards in the first twenty minutes.
Villanova picked up the pace at the outset of the second half and went on a 13-4 run to cut Rutgers lead to one, 43-42. JayVaughn Pinkston paced the Wildcats run scoring 7 points. Tony Chennault then gave the Wildcats the lead 44-43 when he converted two foul shots. After the teams exchanged the lead several times, Villanova regained the lead, 50-47, on a triple by James Bell. Bell who has made a habit of hitting big second half shots this season, did so again. Bell hit three three-pointers and scored all 11 of his points in the second half. Bell got plenty of help from his teammates as five Wildcats finished the game in double figures to help secure a 71 -63 win.
For Villanova, Arcidiacono, Pinkston, and Darrun Hilliard each scored 14 points, Bell had 11, and Yarou added 10 to go along with a game high 12 rebounds. Impressively, Villanova did not commit a single turnover in the second half after committing seven in the opening half. Arcidiacono had 4 assists to pace the Wildcats and did not commit a turnover. The Wildcats, who shot just 30% from the field in the first half, hit 56.5% of their field goal attempts in the second half, including 6 of 10 from three point range.
Rutgers was led in scoring by Mack with 24 points. Kadeem Jack added 12 points, and Jerome Seagears chipped in 10. Mack grabbed 8 boards; Jack had 7. Mack also had 5 assists.
With the win, Villanova improved to 17-10, 8 -6 Big East. Rutgers dropped to 13-12, 4-10 Big East. Next up for Villanova is Marquette on Saturday night February 23 (Senior Night) at 6pm at the Pavilion. Before the game, Villanova will honor seniors Maurice Sutton and Mouphtaou Yarou. Rutgers hosts Providence the same night.
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