In their first action of 2011, as well as the Big East opening game for both teams, the Villanova Wildcats, fueled by Corey Stokes 21 second-half points, beat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 81-65 at the Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. Stokes, who had only two first-half points (on two made free throws) scorched the nets after the intermission, hitting five of six field goal attempts, including four three pointers. The “other Corey”, Fisher Price, contributed 19 points for the victorious Wildcats.
Villanova, which trailed by 4 at the half, 37-33, erupted to start the second half, scoring 11 straight points to take the lead for good at 44-37. The 11-0 run saw Stokes hit three field goals, two from three point range, and Fisher also hit a three. Rutgers cut the Cats lead to three points several times, but Villanova ran off nine straight points to widen their margin to 62-50, with 7:23 left in the game. Villanova’s lead was never in danger after that point.
Villanova outscored the Scarlet Knights 48-28 in the second-half to win going away.
For Villanova, which improved its record to 12-1 (1-0 in the Big East), Stokes and Fisher were the only players to score in double figures. The Wildcats dominated the boards, outrebounding Rutgers 40 to 21. Pacing the Wildcats were Maalik Wayns with a season high 8 rebounds and Dominic Cheek who also pulled down 8. Wayns also had 9 assists to lead the Wildcats in that department. Mouphtaou Yarou contibuted 8 points,7 rebounds, and 3 blocks, and Antonio Pena added 8 points & 6 boards.
Rutgers was led by Jonathan Mitchell, who had 17 points. Three other Rutgers players notched double figures including James Beatty with 14 points, Gilvydas Biruta, who was ejected with under a minute to go, had 12, and Dane Miller, who fouled out of the game, scored 11 points. Rutgers record fell to 9-4 overall, and 0 -1 in Big East play.
At half time, Villanova honored former Wildcat basketball players including Harold Jensen, Doug West, and Steve Pinone. 2011-12 recruit Markus Kennedy was also in attendance.
Villanova’s next game is at 7pm on Thursday night January 6th at the University of South Florida. The Bulls are coached by Stan Heath. Rutgers plays again on Wednesday January 5th at home against the Marquette Golden Eagles.
Our video of Villanova’s post game press conference: