Feb. 3, 2007
With this afternoon's victory, the Wildcats improve to 15-7 overall on the season and 4-5 in the BIG EAST. Villanova has now defeated the Cardinals in all three meetings since Louisville joined the conference last season. The Wildcats claimed two regular-season decisions in 2005-06 and now lead the all-time series by a 6-5 edge.
There were a total of seven ties and four lead changes in today's game. Louisville never led in the final 10 minutes of the contest, as a three-pointer by senior Curtis Sumpter with 10:05 remaining restored a two-point Villanova lead. At the 8:56 mark, sophomore Shane Clark made a three-pointer to break a tie and give the Wildcats the lead for good. All four of the lead changes came in a span of five minutes early in the second half.
At the beginning of the game, Louisville missed 12 of its first 13 shots and Villanova opened the contest with a 15-5 run in the first 7:16. The Wildcats led 8-0 at the first media timeout as the Cardinals were held scoreless for the first 4:35 of the game and did not make their first field goal until a three-pointer by Terrence Williams with 13:32 remaining in the opening period.
Villanova was not without its own offensive drought in the first half. After a three-pointer by sophomore Shane Clark with 12:44 left gave the Wildcats a 15-5 lead, it would be more than three minutes before either team scored again. Louisville scored on a jump with 9:33 left in the period to make the score 15-7. For the Wildcats, sophomore Bilal Benn made a layup with 9:16 left to make the score 17-7, but Villanova would not score again for more than seven minutes. The Wildcats went more than eight minutes without a field goal before a layup by senior Curtis Sumpter with 1:07 left before the intermission. Villanova missed 12 straight shots from the field during its offensive drought.
A key part of the game took place in just over one minute in the second half. After a tip-in by David Padgett drew Louisville to with 47-46 with 5:28 remaining, senior Curtis Sumpter was fouled on a three-point attempt 12 seconds later. In his only trip to the foul line in the game, Sumpter made all three free throws to make the score 50-46. The Cardinals countered with a Juan Palacios layup that made the score 50-48 with 5:01 to play, but freshman Scottie Reynolds answered with a three-pointer late in the shot clock to give Villanova a 53-48 edge with 4:21 to play.
Leading 53-48 with under five minutes to play, the Wildcats used a pair of offensive rebounds and smart clock management to limit Louisville to just four field goal attempts in the final 5:01. The Cardinals missed a layup with 3:32 left and turned the ball over with 2:20 to play. Each of those was followed by Villanova getting an offensive rebound on a missed shot after a long possession.
The Wildcats finished the day with 14 offensive rebounds and an overall edge of 42-27 on the glass. Villanova has outrebounded its opponent 17 times in 22 games this season, including each of the last six games in a row. The Wildcats have had at least a +15 rebound margin six times this season.
Freshman guard Scottie Reynolds came within one point of his first career double-double, dishing out 10 assists and scoring nine points despite hitting just 2-of-11 from the field. Reynolds also had three rebounds and two steals in the game. His 10 assists were a season high and also represented the highest total by a Villanova player at the Wachovia Center. The Wildcats have played 36 games all-time at the Center. Previously, the most assists by a Villanova player in the building was eight by Gary Buchanan in a game against Georgetown on Jan. 30, 1999.
Villanova is now 19-17 (.528) all-time at the Wachovia Center, including 13-13 in BIG EAST games. That records includes a 9-2 mark at the Center since the beginning of the 2004-05 season. The 57 points scored by the Wildcats in today's game matched the third fewest the team had scored at the Center, while the 53 points allowed to the Cardinals were also the third fewest for a Villanova opponent in the building.
Sophomore Shane Clark went 4-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from three-point range to finish with a team-high 12 points in 21 minutes for Villanova. It was just the second time this season that Clark led the team in scoring. In a loss to Xavier on November 19, Clark and senior Curtis Sumpter each scored 17 points. The last time a Wildcat player scored as few as 12 points and led the team in scoring was on Feb. 23, 2004, when Sumpter scored 12 points in a 64-59 loss at Syracuse.
The two teams were a combined 15-of-54 (27.8%) from the field in the first half and a combined 24-of-49 (49.0%) from the field in the second half. In all, 68 of the 110 combined points in the game came after halftime. The Wildcats have had just one game this season with fewer combined points. That came in a 56-52 (108 total points) win over Georgetown on Jan. 8.