Jan. 18, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Boosted by the efforts of Maalik Wayns and JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova gained an early lead it never relinquished on its way to an 84-76 victory over Seton Hall on Wednesday night at the Pavilion. The Wildcats improved to 9-10 overall, 2-5 in the BIG EAST while the Pirates dropped to 15-4 overall, 4-3 in conference action.
Wayns followed his 39-point effort at Cincinnati with 25 points, seven assists, five rebounds and also matched up with Seton Hall senior point guard Jordan Theodore for most of the night at the defensive end of the court. Pinkston, meanwhile, posted his first career double-double with a season-high 23 points and 11 rebounds.
"Maalik did an amazing job on Theodore," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright of his junior point guard, who helped limit the Pirates guard to 2-of-16 shooting on the night. "We have great respect for Theodore and his ability to get his teammates shots."
The Wildcats relied on Dominic Cheek and the mid-range game in the early going. Cheek scored six points to help Villanova construct a 14-9 lead with 11:44 to play in the first half. A Darrun Hilliard triple with 10:40 left in the half capped an 11-0 run to push the advantage to 19-9.
By halftime, a solid defensive effort and balanced attack produced a 37-28 advantage for the Wildcats. Wayns set the pace in the period for the `Cats with 10 points, four assists and a single turnover. James Bell and Pinkston added seven points apiece as VU connected on .448 of its field goal attempts while holding Seton Hall to 9-of-31 from the field (.290).
The perimeter shooting of Brandon Mobley, who had four of the Pirates' nine first half field goals and 12 points before the break, accounted for much of the Hall's offense in the period.
Fuquan Edwin, held to only two points in the first half, began to become an offensive force after halftime for Seton Hall. The sophomore sparked a 14-9 run in the first five minutes of the second half, draining 10 points in that span as the Pirates shaved the deficit to 46-42. The gap narrowed to 49-47 after a Theodore free throw with 12:54 to play in the second half.
But each time the Pirates drew near, the Wildcats had an answer. Some were provided by Wayns and Pinkston, others by Bell, who dropped in a season-high 18 points while collecting six rebounds. Bell was 4-of-8 from 3-point territory and came within three points of his career high of 21, established last season when these two squads met at the Prudential Center in Newark.
"JayVaughn was awesome tonight," stated Wright. "He's starting to get more comfortable after the layoff he had. There is still a lot of improvement he can make but we're seeing progress."
One example was at the free throw line, where Pinkston, who struggled early in the season at the charity stripe, was 13-of-17 for the night.
"He didn't shoot free throws last year and I think he lost his touch there for a while because he was a good shooter in high school," noted Wright.
The Wildcats owned a 45-36 advantage on the glass and 17-10 edge on second chance points. They were 34-of-41 at the free throw line (.829).
Edwin led four scorers in double figures for the Pirates with 14 points. He also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. VU limited the Hall to .367 shooting on the night, including .333 from beyond the 3-point arc (12-of-36).
Wayns said knocking off a team that was ranked nationally before falling to USF on Friday night in Tampa by a point did not shock him.
"We've seen it coming," he stated. "We did a lot of good things in the Cincinnati game but weren't able to finish it at the end. We've kept a positive attitude all along, and our goal is to get better every day."
"We got great effort at Cincinnati and a good effort tonight," stated Wright. "That can make up for a lot."
The win was Villanova's 10th in a row over Seton Hall, dating to 2004.
Notes: Both Villanova and Seton Hall, in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services, sponsored the "Playing for Peace" initiative to shine a light on conditions in the Sudan. Both squads wore shooting shirts and the respective coaching staffs donned lapel ribbons. Villanova University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A. also addressed the crowd at halftime and noted the importance of "Staying with Suden".
A moment of silence was held prior to the game in honor of Rev. William McGuire O.S.A., a former University Vice-President and assistant athletic director who died Tuesday.