Wildcats Falter at No. 7 Syracuse, 72-61
Jan. 12, 2013
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Villanova Wildcats went toe-to-toe with No. 7 Syracuse for much of Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome before the Orange gained control over the final 10 minutes for a 72-61 triumph here today. Villanova falls to 11-5 overall, 2-1 BIG EAST, while the Orange are now 16-1 overall, 4-0 in the conference.
C.J. Fair paced the winners in scoring with 22 points while sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston led the Wildcats with 12 points. Mouphtaou Yarou added 11 points for the Wildcats. A crowd of 27,486 was in attendance at the Carrier Dome.
The earliest parts of this game were about defense. Neither team scored until a Darrun Hilliard attempt was ruled to have been a goaltending violation at the 17:47 mark of the first half. Both teams kept the defensive heat on, SU from its customary 2-3 zone and the Wildcats in man-to-man defense. With more than eight minutes gone, the count was 8-7 in Syracuse's favor.
A pair of Yarou baskets staked VU to a 14-9 lead before the Orange used a 6-0 surge of its own to re-rake the lead at 15-14. The contest remained tight and was even at 24 with 2:33 left on the clock in the first period.
The Wildcats took a 29-27 lead with them into the locker room at halftime.
Villanova owed its advantage to a 26-18 edge on the glass and a defensive effort that limited SU to 10-of-33 (.303) on its attempts from the field. Yarou paced the Wildcats with nine points and eight rebounds. Sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston contributed seven points to the cause.
Fair scored five consecutive points early in the second half to give the Orange back a lead it would not relinquish at 32-31 with just over 18 minutes to play in the period. Fair's scoring helped create space for his teammates and the pace of the game increased too. Fair's nine points in the first five minutes of the half allowed Syracuse to build a 38-34 advantage.
The Wildcats pulled to within 44-43 when sophomore Achraf Yacoubou drained a 3-pointer midway through the period. But then came an Orange surge sparked by its defense. A Rakeem Christmas dunk off a lob feed capped an 8-0 run that made the score 51-43 with under nine minutes to play.
Each time Villanova closed to within striking distance, though, Syracuse responded with a clutch offensive sequence. A pair of 3-pointers from Trevor Cooney stretched the lead to 61-47 with 5:46 remaining in the contest.
The Wildcats extended their defensive pressure in an effort to shave the gap and did draw closer, closing to within 64-58 with 2:02 to play when James Bell drained a 3-pointer from the left corner. But Syracuse converted 5-of-6 free throws to stem the tide.
The final was 72-61.
Villanova returns home next week to host Pittsburgh on Wednesday night at the Pavilion (7:00 p.m./ESPNU).