In their final out-of-conference game before they begin Big East conference play next week, the Villanova Wildcats downed the American University Eagles 73-52 at the Pavilion on Thursday night. Maalik Wayns, who did not start because he was battling a virus, came off of the bench to spark the Wildcats to a convincing win. Wayns, and Freshman Jayvaughn Pinkston, led the Wildcats in scoring with 12 points apiece. Mouphtaou Yarou, who is still laboring from the affects of an ankle sprain suffered in practice before the St. Joseph’s game, was Villanova’s leading rebounder with 10 (in 20 minutes of action).
With less than seven minutes to go in the first half, Wayns led Villanova on a 9-0 spurt, to stretch a slim 24-22 lead into a 33-22 lead. Villanova led at the intermission by a score of 38-27. The Wildcats hit 14 of their 31 field goal attempts in the first half (45.2%), including 6 of 15 three point shots (40.0%). Nine Wildcats scored in the first half. Wayns, James Bell, and Darrun Hilliard each chipped in 6 points. For American, Charles Hinkle led the scoring with 13. The Wildcats largest lead in the first half was 12 points, 36-24. The Eagles out-rebounded the Wildcats 19-16 in the first 30 minutes.
After the Eagles scored the first two baskets of the second half to cut Villanova’s lead to five, 38-33, the Wildcats regained their footing, and once again sparked by Wayns, scored 12 straight points to take an imposing 50-33 lead with just under twelve minutes left in the game. The Wildcats continued to build their lead throughout the half and extended it to as much as 24 points, 71-47, with 1:14 left in the game.
With the win, the victorious Wildcats improved their record to 7-5. In addition to Wayns and Pinkston, Dominic Cheek also scored in double figures with 10 points to his credit. Wayns added 9 assists and turned the ball over only one time. Overall, Villanova had 16 assists and committed only 5 turnovers. Moreover, the Wildcats ended up winning the battle of the boards 39-37. Freshman Markus Kennedy ably assisted Yarou by snagging 7 rebounds for Villanova. For the game, Villanova shot 43.3%, hitting 26 of 6o field goal attempts. The Wildcats hit 10 of their 25 three point attempts.
For American, Blake Jolivette joined Charles Hinkle in double figures with a team high 19 points. Hinkle finished with 17 points, with only 4 coming after halftime. The Eagles leading rebounder was Tony Wroblicky with 8. With the loss, American’s record fell to 8-5. American was held to 34.5% shooting, hitting 20 of 58 shots. The Eagles hit 7 of 21 from three point range (33.3%).
At half time, Villanova welcomed back a bevy of former players and along with former head-coach Rollie Massimino, honored another former Nova head-coach, Jack Kraft. It was the 50th anniversary of Kraft’s first game coached at Villanova.
Villanova next plays on Wednesday night December 28th (7pm) at West Virginia as it begins Big East conference play. Next up for the Eagles is a home game against Mount St. Mary’s on December 29th.