No. 4 Villanova Defeats Louisville, 92-84
Jan. 11, 2010
Scottie Reynolds spent 34 minutes letting Louisville bump him, slap him and nudge him up and down the court.
No biggie. Reynolds delivered the knockout blow anyway.
The senior guard scored 16 of his season-high 36 points over the final 6:05 to lead the fourth-ranked Wildcats to a 92-84 victory over the Cardinals on Monday night.
"We probably got more out of him than we deserved," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "He's done this stuff before. The kid is great."
He had to be after the Cardinals took a 17-point first-half lead, as Louisville rattled the Wildcats into a flurry of turnovers and threatened to put the game away early.
Reynolds didn't give them the chance. He steadied the Wildcats shortly before halftime, then took over down the stretch.
Reynolds was nearly perfect, going 9 of 10 from the field while making all five of his 3-point attempts as Villanova (15-1, 4-0 Big East) snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cardinals (12-5, 3-1).
"He brought us to another level," Villanova forward Taylor King said. "He did an unbelievable job, that's why he's our leader."
Not that Reynolds was particularly impressed with his performance.
"Personally, I wanted this for our team," he said. "It was a good feeling but it wasn't me. It was a collective effort."
Maybe for the first 34 minutes, but the last six belonged to Reynolds.
Maalik Wayns hit a free throw to give Villanova a 76-72 lead with 6:05 to go. It was the last time any Wildcat other than Reynolds scored.
Free throws. Three-pointers. Layups. Reynolds hit them all.
He knocked down a deep 3 to put Villanova up 86-77 with 3:30 remaining. Louisville eventually clawed back to 86-83 and twice had the ball with a chance to tie it but Jared Swopshire and Preston Knowles each missed 3-pointers.
Reynolds made sure the Cardinals didn't get another opportunity, knifing through the lane for a spectacular lay-in to boost Villanova's lead to 88-83 with 58 seconds left. He made four free throws over the final seconds to keep the Wildcats perfect in the Big East.
King and Corey Fisher finished with 12 points each, while Wayns added 11 as the Wildcats survived a bruising 40 minutes that featured 44 turnovers, 67 fouls and 94 free throws.
"Both teams put a lot of pressure and heat on," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "It was an old-fashioned Big East game."
Samardo Samuels led Louisville with 21 points and Edgar Sosa added 17, but the Cardinals shot just 32 percent from the field and couldn't stop Reynolds when it mattered.
"We should have had about 60 points at halftime," Pitino said. "We would make a steal and turn it over. To work that hard and come up empty on offense, that really hurts you."
Playing in front of a charged atmosphere that included former Louisville star and current New Jersey Nets forward Terrence Williams, the defending conference champions appeared ready to prove their 3-0 start in the Big East was no fluke.
Early on, the Cardinals played like it. Villanova came in averaging just 13 turnovers a game but had 17 in the first half as Louisville flustered the Wildcats into countless mistakes.
At times it was a struggle for Villanova to get the ball past halfcourt.
Wright became so enraged - either at Louisville's physical defense or his own team's shakiness or maybe both - he received a rare technical foul after the Cardinals stole an inbounds pass which Sosa converted into a three-point play.
Wright made sure to get his money's worth. He stormed out onto the court and parked himself in the lane while his staff held him back.
"I'm embarrassed. I lost it," Wright said. "I was frustrated with the way we were playing. We couldn't throw the ball up the court. I've never seen a first half like that. It was crazy."
Louisville eventually pushed the lead to 38-21 before the Wildcats rallied behind Reynolds to get within 43-36 at halftime.
"In the first half we couldn't play worse," Reynolds said. "We just had to man up and it just had to come from within. We just started playing with confidence and not worrying about the crowd."
Villanova used a 17-2 lead early in the second half to take the lead, Louisville managed to hang around thanks to spectacular free-throw shooting. The Cardinals made 39 of 45 from the line - tying a school record for most free throws made in a conference game - and kept it close until Reynolds took over.