On Friday night, February 7th, the Villanova Wildcats got off to a slow start against the Seton Hall Pirates. For most of the opening half, the Wildcats were out of sync. This was perhaps due to a change in their practice routine caused by the latest winter storm. Villanova University lost power and was forced to cancel classes and close for three full days. It was not until Daniel Ochefu scored two consecutive buckets, first to tie the score at 25-25, and then to give Villanova the lead with 3:02 left in the first half, that the Wildcats showed signs of life. Paced by Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova closed out the half on a 13-1 run to take a 34-26 advantage into the locker room.
Villanova began the second half on an 8-2 run to push their lead to 42-28 with 16:20 left in the game. Fueled by Darrun Hilliard (who had a quiet first half), Ochefu, and Pinkston, Villanova stretched the lead and left the Pirates in their wake. Villanova’s two man inside game between Pinkston (9 of 11) and Ochefu (5 of 6) was a sight to behold, as each took turns dishing off to the other for easy dunks or layups. Senior James Bell continued his high level of play hitting several triples and an alley-oop jam off of a beautiful feed from Hilliard, as the Wildcats scorched the nets in the second half (shooting 53.6%).
Bell was the game’s high scorer with 20 points. He was followed closely by Pinkston, who tallied 19 points. Ochefu had a double-double with 10 points and a team-high 10 rebounds (all on the defensive end). Hilliard added 10, to also finish in double figures. Villanova ended up hitting 50.9% of their field goal attempts (28 of 55), after starting the game hitting just 4 of 13 from the field, and missing their first 7 three-point attempts. Villanova only made 5 of 21 three- point shots (23.8%), but shot a scintillating 67% from inside the arc.
Villanova won the battle of the boards with a 34-25 edge. Bell and Pinkston each grabbed 6 boards. The Wildcats had 19 assists against 11 turnovers. Ryan Arcidiacono had 6, with no turnovers. Ochefu also had 6, but committed 4 turnovers.
For Seton Hall, Sterling Gibbs was the high scorer with 16. Eugene Teague added 10. Fuquan Edwin, the Pirates leading scorer coming into the game, was held to 8 points (all in the early portion of the first half).
With the win, Villanova improved to 21-2 overall and 9-1 in the Big East. Significantly, it was also Coach Jay Wright’s 400th career win (278 at Villanova and 122 at Hofstra). Villanova, which has won its last 5 games, now embarks on a three game road trip beginning on Wednesday, February 12th at 8pm in Chicago against the DePaul Blue Demons (Fox Sports 1). The DePaul game will be followed by the return match-up with the Creighton Blue Jays at 5pm on February 16th (Fox Sports 1). Creighton beat DePaul last night to remain tied with Villanova on top of the Big East with a 9-1 record. The Wildcats road trip concludes with a game in Providence on February 18th.Villanova’s next home game is on February 22nd against St. John’s at the Wells Fargo Center.
Seton Hall, now 13-10 overall, 4-6 Big East, returns to action on Tuesday, February 11th, when it hosts Marquette.
[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
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