Wildcats Thunder Past Herd in 2K Sports Classic

The Villanova Wildcats, sparked by Freshman point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, beat a tall, athletic, and talented Marshall University team 80-68 in a second round game of the 2K Sports Classic, on Sunday afternoon, November 11th, at the Pavilion.

The Wildcats led almost the entire game after breaking a 17-17 tie on a basket by James Bell. The Wildcats shot the ball well and controlled the boards against the taller Thundering Herd. Villanova hit 56.5% of their shots, sinking 13 of 23 field goal attempts (including 5 of 12 three point shots). Perhaps even more telling was Villanova’s contol of the backboards. The Wildcats out-rebounded Marshall 17-9, and limited the Herd to only one offensive rebound in the first half. Nova went to the locker room with a 43-35 half time lead.

Arcidiacono had 20 points to pace the Wildcats in scoring in the opening twenty minutes, with Bell adding 11 points. Equally important, the Wildcats limited DeAndre Kane, a pre-season All-Conference (Conference USA) first team selection, to two points in the first half.

In the second half, Villanova maintained a lead from start to finish. Marshall came within two points on a three pointer by D.D. Scarver to make it 59-57 with less then ten minutes to go in the game. But the Wildcats stayed poised and went on a 7-0 run to boost their margin to 66-57. The Herd, once again, came thundering back to make it a two point game 70-68 with under four minutes left. The Wildcats responded on a trey by James Bell (off of a nice feed from Arcidiacono), and went on to score the last ten points of the game.

Coach Jay Wright said, “That was a really good effort by our team”. He went on to praise Arcidiacono for having a very high basketball IQ. In particular, Wright stated that he was pleased by his team’s tenacity after the Herd cut the lead to two points, and by his team’s efforts in out-rebounding Marshall. He cited the fact that Marshall only had three offensive rebounds the whole game as a very positive sign of Villanova’s toughness.

Overall, the Wildcats had three players score in double figures, led by Arcidiacono’s 25, Bell’s 19, and Darrun Hilliard who contributed 15 points. Jayvaughn Pinkston, who had a rough afternoon shooting, was Villanova’s leading rebounder with 7. Achraf Yacoubou and Maurice Sutton each had 5 boards. Arcidiacono distributed 6 assists to his teammates. For the visiting Herd, Scarver was the high scorer with 22 points. Chris Martin had 13 points, and Elijah Pittman 12. Kane ended up with 4 points.

For the game, Villanova shot 23 of 46 (50%) from the field, 9 of 22 three pointers (40.9%), and 25 of 37 from the charity stripe (67.6%). The Wildcats grabbed 37 boards to 23 for Marshall.

Several former Villanova players were on hand for the game including current 76ers guard Maalik Wayns.

With the victory, the Wildcats improved to 2-0 on the young season. Marshall fell to 1-1. Villanova next travels to New York to continue play in the 2K Sports Classic against the Purdue Boilermakers on Thursday night, November 15, in the second game of a double-header at Madison Square Garden. The game will tip off at approximately 930pm. Alabama will play Oregon State in the first game. Both games will be televised on ESPN 2.

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You can view an expanded photo gallery below (click thumbnails to enlarge):

[photo credit: Christian Hafer]

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