After a slow start at the Pavilion, in their first game of the season, Villanova shut down Bucknell, Coach Jay Wright’s alma mater, with their stifling defense. The game was tied at 10 -10, when the Cats took over and built a commanding 28-16 halftime lead.
The Bison did not score in the final 6 minutes and 50 seconds of the first half as Villanova upped their defensive pressure. Bucknell shot 24 percent from the field in the first half. For the Wildcats, Corey Stokes had 8 points, and Corey Fisher had 7 at the intermission. Both teams committed 9 turnovers.
In the second half, led by guards Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns, the Cats stretched their lead to seventeen points (38 -21). Bucknell went on a 17 to 7 run to slice the lead to 45-38. Villanova then methodically restored order and tamed the Bison by a final margin of 68-52.
For the victorious Wildcats, Fisher finished with 24 points and Wayns had 15. Corey Stokes also scored in double figures adding 11 points. For Bucknell Darryl Shazier was the high scorer with a dozen points. Leading rebounders for Villanova were Senior Antonio Pena with 8 and Mouphtaou Yarou with 7. Wayns had 6 assists, but also committed 6 turnovers.
Villanova started a lineup of Fisher, Stokes, Wayns, Yarou and Pena. Both of Villanova’s Freshmen were unavailable. James Bell is still out recovering from surgery, and Jayvaughn Pinkston, who was involved in an off-campus fighting incident, was held out pending a University review of the situation. Pinkston faces charges by the Upper Merion Township Police of two counts of simple assault and harassment.
Next up for Villanova is a 5:30 game at the Pavillion against the Marist Red Foxes on November 16 in the NIT Tipoff Tournament. A second game between Boston University and George Washington University will follow.
On the local scene four of the Division 1 teams also opened their seasons. Temple beat Seton Hall 62-56, LaSalle bested Columbia 82-71, Drexel edged Loyola of Maryland 75-72, and St. Joe’s dropped their opener to Western Kentucky 98-70.
[Story by Stephen Miller, Photos by Michael Green]
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