La Salle vs. Villanova: Wildcats Claw Out Win Over Explorers

La Salle vs. Villanova Pre-Game

 In a game reminiscent of classic city series games, Villanova edged La Salle 84-81 in a nail-biter that was not decided until the final shot was launched by La Salle’s Sam Mills as time expired. Had it gone in, it would have sent the game into overtime. Alas, the shot missed, and the Wildcats survived the hard-fought battle. After the game, Villanova Coach Jay Wright said, ” Great atmosphere, great Big Five basketball, it’s what the Big Five is all about.”

Opening Tip Between Aaric Murray and Mouphtaou Yarou
Guillandeaux, Stokes, and Murray
While fans and players alike were all very warm in the tightly packed Tom Gola Arena, it was La Salle that started the game red-hot on a 7-0 run and led by 10 points, 14-4, at the 15:21 mark (and by twelve, 18-6 at the 12:08 mark).Villanova had only one field goal in the first eight minutes and just two in the first ten minutes. La Salle’s largest lead was 14 points when they led 20-6. Nova then began to exert itself and cut the lead to six, 24-18. The Wildcats went on another run (10-2) to tie the score at 28 -28 at 5:04 and finally forged their first lead of the game on a trey by Dominic Cheek to make it 31-28.
Maalik Wayns Lay-Up
Jerrell Williams Scores Over Mouphtaou Yarou

 The half ended with the Wildcats holding a one-point lead 38-37. La Salle was hampered by foul trouble which limited their leading scorer this season, Aaric Murray, to 8 minutes and no points. Devon White was also in foul trouble picking up three fouls in the first half. 

Aaric Murray Baseline Floater
Antonio Pena Bucket and One
The second half began with a brief flourish by Murray, who scored two quick buckets for the Explorers. Those would turn out to be his only two baskets of the game. By the 17:57 mark in the second half, Murray had picked up his third and fourth fouls of the game. Notwithstanding Murray’s absence, La Salle hung tough even though Villanova expanded its lead to 5 points 51-46.
Steve Weingarten Sky Hook Over Corey Stokes
Jerrell Williams Lay-Up
Jerrell Williams, Steve Weingarten, and Sam Mills led the Explorers on a 23-11 run to take a 69-62 lead with 8:32 left in the game. La Salle twice expanded their lead to 8 points, including a 74-66 lead at the 5:23 mark.
Dominic Cheek Leaping Pass
Corey Fisher Bucket and One

 Villanova started edging its way back and took the lead at 78-76 on a Cheek three-pointer with 3:10 to play. Sam Mills responded with a three-pointer of his own to put La Salle back on top for the final time with 1:46 to go.

Ruben Guillandeaux Jump Shot

 Maalik Wayns then put the Wildcats in the lead for good on an old fashioned three point play, a driving lay-up and an ensuing foul shot with 1:09 left on the clock. Mouphtaou Yarou then grabbed a  huge rebound on a Corey Fisher miss with 18 seconds left. Fisher was subsequently  fouled and converted both foul shots to give the Cats a 83-79 lead.

Corey Stokes Jump Shot

 To the dismay of Villanova coach Jay Wright, Tyreek Duren was fouled by Isaiah Armwood and converted both to make it 83-81 with 11 seconds remaining. After being fouled, Fisher made one of two foul shots for Nova to make it 84-81. The Explorers had two opportunities to tie the game. However, Maurice Sutton blocked Duren’s three-point attempt out of bounds and after the inbound play, Mills missed a long three-pointer at the buzzer.

Earl Pettis Three Pointer

 Villanova had five players who scored in double figures. Wayns had 19, Fisher and Corey Stokes each had 16, Cheek, who hit four three-pointers, had 14, and Antonio Pena added 13. The leading rebounder for the Wildcats was Yarou with 9 and Fisher had 8 assists to go with 4 turnovers. Overall Villanova had 16 assists and 18 turnovers.

Cheek, Williams, and Armwood

 For the Explorers, Williams led the way with 20 points and 7 rebounds. Both of La Salle’s Freshmen guards scored in double figures. Sam Mills had 14, including 4 of 5 from three-point range. Duren had 13 points. Aaric Murray was limited to 4 points and 5 rebounds in 12 foul plagued  minutes.

Tyreek Duren Lays It In

 La Salle, coached by Dr. John Giannini, next plays on December 17 at home against Bucknell.Villanova plays on December 18 against the Delaware Blue Hens at the Wells Fargo Center.

 Villanova is now 8-1 overall, 3-0 in the Big Five (with a match-up with Temple still remaining). La salle is now 6-4, 0-1 in the Big Five.
Corey Fisher is Helped Up by Coach Jay Wright
After the game, Corey Fisher, who at one point had to leave the game and head to the locker-room with pain in his left knee, said he was fine. Maalik Wayns also stated that he was no longer suffering from bad pain in his head after hitting it on the court against Penn on Wednesday night (which forced him out of that game and some subsequent practices).

For a full photo slide-show of the game click here:


Our footage from Villanova’s post-game press conference with Jay Wright, Maalik Wayns, and Corey Fisher:

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