Before a sparse crowd at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, The Villanova Wildcats, looking to rebound from a weekend loss to Temple, took on Boston University. The Terriers got off to a quick start and took a 13-4 lead with some sharp passing and multiple three-point baskets. Villanova, on the other hand, had serious butter fingers, committing five turnovers in the early going. The Wildcats started the game with a “revised” starting lineup consisting of Mouph Yarou, Maalik Wayns, Jayvaughn Pinkston, Ty Johnson, and Acraf Yacoubou.
Villanova struggled mightily with its shooting, often settling for a jump shot rather than driving to the basket. The Terriers continued to stay aggressive at both ends and, although they had several dry spells, maintained the lead throughout the first half. At the intermission, BU led 26-23.
Villanova hit only 6 of 33 field goal attempts (18.2%), including just 2 of 12 three-point shots (16.7%) in the first half. The Wildcats did however hit 9 0f 11 free throws. Yarou was lone Nova player in double figures in the first half with 11 points.
The Wildcats were so cold heading into the half that they went the final 8:54 without a bucket, missing their last 16 shots.
BU was led in the opening half by Chester native (and Archbishop Carroll grad) D.J. Irving who had 8 points. The Terriers hit 10 of 26 shots (38.5%) and 4 of 13 three point attempts (30.8%). BU also hit their only 2 free throw attempts in the half.
In the second half, BU started off as frigid as the Wildcats were in the first half. With the Terriers now ice-cold, Villanova began to heat up, hit their shots, and took their first lead on a bucket by Wayns at the 17:22 mark, 30-29. Nova then broke a 30-30 tie with a 14-0 run that was finally broken on a triple by BU’s Matt Griffin. Villanova continued to widen the margin and pushed their lead to 59-37 with 5:42 left in the game, eventually winning by 25 points, 68-43.
It was certainly a tale of two halves for Villanova. In the final twenty minutes they did all of the things they seemed unable to do it the first half. They locked down on defense. They made crisp passes, hit some open shots, and most importantly, drove to the basket.
The Wildcats were led in scoring by Dominic Cheek who finished with 14 points (including 3 three-pointers) to go along with 7 rebounds. Mouphtaou Yarou, who wears number 13, finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Wayns also finished in double figures, scoring 10. Every other Villanova player scored, including 9 points for James Bell to go along with 7 rebounds, and his team-high 4 assists.
Villanova shot 55.9% in the second half (including 5 of 15 three-pointers), finishing the game at 37.3%. They hit 11 of their 15 free-throw attempts for the game (73.3%) and finished with 13 assists to just 11 turnovers. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Terriers 53-35.
BU was led in scoring by Irving who finished with 11 points. Patrick Hazel added 9, and Matt Griffin chipped in 8. Hazel also led the team in rebounds with 5. The Terriers shot just 23.3% in the second half including an icy cold 1 of 14 from three-point range (7.1%). They had 8 assists and 13 turnovers.
Villanova will now look to make it two straight wins as they take on St. Joseph’s on Saturday night. A win in the annual “Holy War” game will guarantee the Wildcats another winning record in the Big Five.