Wildcats Knock Off No. 20 Notre Dame, 102-87
Jan. 17, 2007
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) -Scottie Reynolds played the early part of this season like a respectful freshman, deferring his shots, trying to pass and play team basketball.
One problem: Villanova coach Jay Wright didn't recruit Reynolds to be an unselfish shooter.
"I could have gotten a guy off the intramural team to pass the ball," Wright said.
Slowly, Reynolds is discovering his best option is usually himself.
"Scoring's never been a problem for me, it's just that I look up to the captains and early in the year I was just trying to get everybody shots," Reynolds said. "Now it's like, `OK, I need to drive it.' I was just driving it and it just so happened I could get to the rim tonight."
Mike Nardi scored 18 points and the Wildcats (12-5, 2-3 Big East) hit 10 3-pointers to get a sorely needed conference victory heading into Saturday's game against No. 21 Texas.
Russell Carter hit six 3-pointers and scored 26 points, Colin Falls had five 3s and 17 points, and Luke Harangody scored 13 points for the Irish (15-3, 3-2) in their first trip to the Pavilion since 1996. Notre Dame lost for only the second time in its last 16 games.
"Every time we got within seven or eight, somebody made a big shot for them," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
That somebody was usually Reynolds.
Reynolds has been sensational lately, and he sparked the Wildcats down the stretch. He scored 12 of 17 points in one spurt late in the second half, helping the Wildcats keep the lead each time the Irish cut into it with another 3-pointer.
Reynolds' tip forced a turnover that led to Cunningham's reverse layup to put the lead back at 10.
Still, the Irish weren't finished, certainly not against the worst 3-point field goal defensive team in the Big East. After scoring 16 points in the first half, Carter hit a 3 for his first points in the second that sliced the lead to 77-69.
Another Notre Dame turnover, it had 13, was converted into a 2-on-1 fastbreak layup by Reynolds. Carter suddenly showed some life again from beyond the arc and hit one that made it 79-72 with 5 1/2 minutes left. Carter finished 6-for-11 from 3-point range, but made only three other field goals.
While the 3-point shots were flying, the Wildcats stole some sloppy passes in the paint to secure this one. Will Sheridan easily grabbed a lazy pass that was fed to Reynolds for a 3 and an 82-72 lead, capping his scoring spurt. When Shane Clark's 3 made it 90-76, the Pavilion crowd erupted and the Wildcats were on their way to their second-highest point total of the season.
Nardi's two free throws with 1:23 left gave the Wildcats 100 points. They hadn't scored more than 65 points in any of their first four Big East games.
"We must bring out the best in people," Brey said.
Reynolds was 8-for-12 from the field, went 9-of-10 from the free throw line and added a couple of 3-pointers. He was off from the field against Syracuse on Saturday, but scored a combined 41 points on 50 percent shooting in the two previous games against DePaul and Georgetown.
Only three times in the first 10 games did he reach double figures and twice he scored only one point. Now, Reynolds is playing more like the McDonald's All-America who Wright recruited.
"He's a tough guy to guard," Wright said.
With 76ers executive vice president Larry Brown jotting down notes from his baseline seat, each team played fast and loose with the 3-point attempts. Sumpter hit one, and then Carter sank a 3 that made it 16-9. After a two-point basket, Carter buried a 3, that this time was answered by Sumpter. Sumpter played with a nagging hamstring injury that's kept him out of most practices the last two weeks.
With little perimeter defense on either side, the Irish went 8-for-15 from 3-point range and the Wildcats shot 50 percent from beyond the arc and 59 percent overall to lead 50-40 at halftime.