Feb. 9, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats took control early and never looked back en route to a 68-40 victory over USF (10-13 overall, 1-10 BIG EAST) in a conference contest played here this afternoon. VU improves to 15-9 overall, 6-5 in the BIG EAST.
Villanova limited the Bulls to 11 field goals (connecting on .234 of their attempts from the field) and 40 points in what was, from a statistical standpoint, its best defensive effort of the season.
Darrun Hilliard set the scoring pace with 17 points while senior Mouphtaou Yarou contributed nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds. JayVaughn Pinkston added 10 points and five rebounds. JaVontae Hawkins led USF with 13 points.
"A good win for us - a BIG EAST win is a good win," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "I just thought we were really consistent defensively and did a really good job on that end of the floor. We had great leadership from Mouph and James Bell.
"I just like where we're going. We're getting better."
Anthony Collins dropped in a short jumper to open the scoring for USF before Villanova responded with a 12-0 surge capped by a driving layup and subsequent free throw from junior guard Tony Chennault that gave the `Cats a 12-2 lead after just over four minutes had elapsed in the first half.
USF pulled back to within 16-11 when Jawanza Poland dropped in a 3-pointer midway through the period. However, Villanova got a score from sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston that was followed with a long-distance 3-point goal from sophomore Achraf Yacoubou to build a 21-11 advantage with 7:57 on the clock before halftime.
Villanova then extended its lead with an 18-5 surge to finish the half and the Bulls would never shave the deficit to fewer than 20 points again. A Yarou basket just before the buzzer sounded for halftime allowed the Wildcats to take a 39-16 edge with them into the locker room at break.
Hilliard and Yarou led a balanced Wildcat attack in the period with nine points each. Villanova owned a 21-8 advantage on the glass in the first 20 minutes and connected on 13-of-20 (.650) field goal attempts, including 3-of-7 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Two 3-pointers from Hilliard in the first eight minutes of the second half and exceptional defensive work allowed Villanova to push the lead to 50-20, its largest lead of the 2012-13 campaign. The lead grew to as many as 31 points before ending in a 68-40 final.
The 40 points allowed were the second fewest ever scored by an opponent at the Pavilion, which opened on Feb. 1, 1986. VU downed Stony Brook 78-35 in 2005.
"This is an inexperienced team that is very coachable," noted Wright. "Every experience it has together is an important one. Having a lead like this at halftime and coming out in the second half and taking care of business is new. We have had some leads at the half and not come out and taken care of business. This was a good step for us."
On Tuesday night, VU will be in Cincinnati to meet the Bearcats (8:00 p.m./PHL 17) and follows with a Feb. 16 contest at Connecticut and Feb. 18 date with Rutgers.