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Villanova 56, Saint Joseph's 39

 

 

Feb. 6, 2007

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Villanova extended a school-record in tonight's game by winning its 11th straight Philadelphia Big Five contest. The Wildcats have not lost to a City Series rival since falling 53-52 to Temple on December 2, 2004. The Big Five began playing regular season contests during the 1955-56 season.

The Wildcats clinched their eighth outright Big Five title in tonight's game and finish with a 4-0 record in City Series play. It is the second straight outright title for Villanova, whose eight championships are tied with Saint Joseph's for the most among the five teams. It is also the third straight season and 11th time overall that the Wildcats had at least a share of the Big Five title. That is the second most ever, trailing only the 18 shared championships by Temple.

Villanova is 16-10 (.615) in Big Five games played at the Pavilion, including a 5-2 (.714) mark against Saint Joseph's in games played in the building.

Tonight's game marked the first time this season that the Wildcats held an opponent to fewer than 40 points and just the second time that Villanova limited the opposition to fewer than 50 points. For the season, the Wildcats are allowing 64.4 points per game to the opposition.

In tonight's game, Villanova scored on six of its first 13 possessions and led 13-4 seven minutes into the game. The 13 points were provided by six different players and the Wildcats eventually received points from seven different players in the opening half. Senior Will Sheridan opened the scoring for Villanova on a jumper just 16 seconds into the game. Following that basket, freshman Scottie Reynolds and sophomore Shane Clark each made free throws. Senior Curtis Sumpter added a layup, senior Mike Nardi hit a three-pointer and sophomore Bilal Benn made a layup during the game-opening run.

 

 

Tonight's game marked the fourth straight contest in which Villanova held its opponent to less than 30 percent shooting in the first half. That streak began after Providence shot 62 percent in the first 20 minutes of an 82-73 Wildcat win on January 23. Since then, Villanova has limited the opposition to 26-of-97 (26.8%) shooting in the opening period. That includes Saint Joseph's hitting 5-of-18 (27.8%) shots in the first half of tonight's contest. In the three games before tonight, the Villanova opponent rebounded to shoot 35-of-71 (49.3%) in the second half. That trend did not hold true for the Hawks, however. Saint Joseph's was 8-for-32 (25.0%) in the second half and finished 13-for-50 (26.0%) on the evening.

Villanova entered halftime with a 29-20 lead over the Hawks. That included an 18-2 margin on points in the paint for the Wildcats, who used strong inside play several times to convert layups for easy baskets or a three-point play. Villanova had a 34-18 edge on points in the paint for the game.

Sophomore forward Shane Clark had a dunk - his first field goal of the game - with 12:50 left in the second half to give Villanova a 37-26 lead over the Hawks. It was the first dunk for the Wildcats since sophomore Dante Cunningham dunked with 43 seconds left in an 82-73 win over Providence on January 23. Villanova had made 73 field goals since Cunningham's dunk against the Friars. The Wildcats did not have to wait long before seeing another dunk, as senior Will Sheridan made a dunk with 8:03 left in the contest.

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