The Villanova Wildcats tipped off the regular portion of the 2011-2012 basketball season by routing the visiting Monmouth Hawks 106-70 on Friday night at the Pavilion.
Villanova, paced by the torrid shooting of Dominic Cheek who canned 20 points (including four three-pointers), and the fierce rebounding of Mouph Yarou (six rebounds), cruised to a 55-36 halftime lead. The Wildcats hit eight three-pointers and 13 of 14 free throws in the first half. Maalik Wayns contributed nine points and made some crisp passes (five assists). Overall, in the first twenty minutes, the Wildcats shot 50% from the field and 92% from the foul line. Nova also dominated the boards 25-11 in the opening half.
In the second half, Villanova continued its dominance with outstanding shooting and strong rebounding. The Cats continued to expand their lead throughout the next twenty minutes, and topped the 100 point mark with 7:09 left in the game (by which time the score was 100-62). Moreover, Villanova improved its field-goal accuracy in the second half, hitting a scorching 19 of 32 shots (59.4%). For the game, Villanova shot 54.5% from the field, and connected on 22 of 26 free throws.
The Wildcats were led by Cheek’s career high 27 points, including five three-pointers (also a career high), and Mouph Yarou’s double-double, 24 points and 10 rebounds. Wayns also scored in double figures adding 15 points to go along with his game high five assists. Jayvaughn Pinkston contributed 9 points and 4 rebounds in a very energetic twenty-one minutes of action. Freshman Markus Kennedy pitched in with 6 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and a blocked shot. Fellow Freshman Darrun Hilliard, who started the game, added 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. Acraf Yacoubou, another Freshman, scored 7 points. Freshman Ty Johnson had one point and one assist. James Bell scored 8 points, grabbed 3 boards, and handed out 4 assists. Mo Sutton, who played the last 5:30 of the second half, corralled 3 rebounds and did not score. Dallas Ouano and Nick McMahon both played the final few minutes but neither attempted a shot or free-throw.
For the visitors, who are coached by former UNC point guard King Rice, Jesse Steele was the leading scorer with 12 points, while Phill Wait and Dion Nesmith each scored 10 points. Ed Waite was the Hawks top rebounder with five boards.
Next up for head-coach Jay Wright and The Wildcats is a Big Five matchup with the LaSalle Explorers on Tuesday November 15th at the Pavilion. LaSalle started its season on Friday with a convincing win over Lafayette.
A number of former Villanova players were on hand to watch the Wildcats kick off the 2011-12 season. Among the onlookers were current NBA players Randy Foye, Dante Cunningham, and Malik Allen. Also present was former NBA player Alvin Williams, Mike Nardi, who has played professionally in Italy, Chris Charles, and legendary coach Larry Brown.