The 2011-2012 Villanova basketball season got underway last night at the Wells Fargo Center as the Wildcats took on the Bears of the New York Institute of Technology in an exhibition game. Villanova led from start to finish and dominated the Bears 91-58.
The Wildcats started a lineup of Maalik Wayns, Mouph Yarou, James Bell, Darrun Hilliard, and Dominic Cheek. Nova sprinted to a 13-2 lead with each of the Villanova starters scoring. After the Bears scored their third point, the Wildcats tacked on nine more to boost the lead to 22-3. At this juncture, Wayns already had 9 points.
At the half, the Wildcats held a 46-28 lead. Seven Wildcat players had scored with Wayns leading the charge (18 points) and Yarou adding 8. Cheek was the leading rebounder with 7, followed closely by JayVaughn Pinkston with 6, and Markus Kennedy & James Bell with 5 each. Cheek also led the Wildcats with 5 assists.
The Bears outscored the Wildcats 6-3 to start the second half to cut Villanova’s lead to 49-34. Villanova then went on a 15-2 run to push the lead to 64-36. Nova maintained a large lead for the rest of the game.
Villanova used a variety of lineups throughout the second half, including a lineup consisting of five freshmen. All ten of the Villanova players who saw action scored. Four players scored in double figures: Wayns, Yarou, Bell, and Achraf Yacoubou.
Wayns: 21 points, 7 assists, 1 turnover
Yarou: 10 points, 4 rebounds
Bell: 17 points
Cheek: 8 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals
Hilliard: 5 points, 5 rebounds
Yacoubou: 11 points, 4 rebounds
Pinkston: 9 points, 9 rebounds
Johnson: 6 points, 2 assists, 2 turnovers
Kennedy: 2 points, 5 rebounds
Sutton: 2 points, 3 rebounds
On an otherwise successful night, the most noticeable deficiency for Villanova was its three point shooting (just under 24%), with Wayns, Johnson, and Cheek failing to connect. Yacoubou hit three shots from behind the arc, with Bell and Hilliard each adding one. Cheek struggled mightily from the floor overall hitting just two of his eleven shots. The Wildcats shot 75% from the line and pulled down 60 rebounds to NYIT’s 33.
Villanova begins the regular season on Friday, November 11th at the Pavilion against the Monmouth Hawks (7pm).