Feb. 1, 2014
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Villanova completed a sweep of the Philadelphia Big Five and clinched the outright title with a 90-74 victory over Temple (6-14 overall, 2-2 Big Five) at the Liacouras Center today. The Wildcats improved to 19-2 overall and won their fourth of the season against their City Series rivals (VU downed Penn, Saint Joseph's and La Salle in an 11-day stretch in November).
Senior James Bell led the way for the Wildcats with 19 points and four rebounds in 28 minutes of activity. Junior JayVaughn Pinkston added 13 points and was one of three Wildcats with seven rebounds. The others were junior Darrun Hilliard (12 points) and sophomore Daniel Ochefu (11 points and three blocked shots).
Will Cummings paced the Owls with 24 points.
"That was a really good win for us in a tough environment against a really good team that is just getting better and better," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "In the first half, I just thought they pounded us on the offensive glass. We did a much better job in the second half rebounding."
"We had a lot of players in there and I thought staying fresh helped us in that game."
Bell drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to open the scoring and followed that a short while later with another long ball to help Villanova craft a 6-2 advantage. Four points from Ochefu helped the `Cats extend that margin to 17-8 with 11:25 to play in the first half.
The gap grew to 25-13 before the Owls reeled off a 12-0 run in no small part by holding the Wildcats offense without a field goal for 6:32. A pair of Anthony Lee free throws cut the VU lead to 25-23 at the 3:59 mark of the first period and then a drive by Dalton Pepper tied the contest at 25.
"It was our bigs having to leave Lee to help on Cummings and then Lee out-rebounding anybody that rotated in there," noted Wright. "It wasn't our forwards. Our guards and our wings had to do a better job of blocking out Lee."
A short jumper in the lane by Josh Hart gave VU back the lead before two more Lee free throws with 1:40 to go in the period deadlocked the game at 27.
Hilliard and quality defense helped get Villanova off to a quick start in the second period. The junior dropped in a free throw and followed that with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Bell add a three of his own a short while later and the Wildcats were in front by the count of 43-31 before Pepper sank a long three to snap the VU burst.
The Villanova bench asserted itself in the period as well as sophomore Dylan Ennis drained a 3-pointer and helped the Wildcats regain their offensive flow. Bell added three more long range markers over the first 13 minutes of the period to help stake the `Cats to a 73-53 lead with 7:12 to go in the period. Villanova's reserves would out-score Temple's by a 29-9 count on the day, with Ennis' 10 points setting the pace.
Temple heated up its offense over the final seven minutes and it took Villanova's firepower to keep the Owls at arm's length the rest of the way. The final tally was 90-74 as VU connected on .525 of its field goal attempts on the day while limiting Temple to .362 accuracy from the field.
Wright was asked about the meaning of the Philadelphia Big Five title in the post-game press conference.
"We take one game at a time," noted Wright, who picked up his 398th career triumph in this one. "At the end of the season, we always sit down and talk about what we did in the pre-season, the Big Five, the Big East regular season, and the post-season. This will be something we will talk about because we have great respect for these teams. To win it, is awesome."
The Wildcats have little time to celebrate as they return to BIG EAST action on Monday when Xavier visits the Pavilion (7:00 p.m./Fox Sports 1). It will mark their first appearance on campus since Jan. 18 and first home date since Jan. 20.
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