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Wildcats Down Pirates, 78-69

Feb. 10, 2007

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Curtis Sumpter had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Dante Cunningham almost single-handedly thwarted a second-half Seton Hall rally with 13 straight points for Villanova in a 78-69 victory on Saturday.

Mike Nardi added 16 points, Cunningham finished with 14 points and Scottie Reynolds had 11 as the Wildcats (17-7, 5-5 Big East) won their fourth straight game and sixth in eight.

Villanova had a 41-20 rebounding edge and lived up to its reputation as one of the conference's best free throw shooting team, hitting 34-of-41 with Seton Hall (12-11, 3-7) in foul problems.

Jamar Nutter had 21 points to lead the Pirates, who lost their fifth straight conference game. Larry Davis and freshman point guard Eugene Harvey added 15 points apiece. Brian Laing, Seton Hall's leading scorer with a 16.6 point average, fouled out without scoring.

Despite scoring the first 10 points of the game and leading by 16 at the half, Villanova needed Cunningham to come up big to beat Seton Hall for the win.

Down 45-29 in the opening minutes of the second half, Seton Hall went on an 18-5 spurt to close to within 50-47 on a 3-pointer by Nutter with 11:32 to go.

Cunningham, who had all five Wildcats points in the spurt, then scored eight straight points on Villanova's next three possessions, igniting the burst with a monster dunk that turned into a three-point play. By the time his spree was over, the Wildcats had a 60-52 lead with 9:28 to play.

Seton Hall stayed close the rest of the way and narrowed the gap to 73-69 on Nutter's fifth 3-pointer with 2:47 to go. However, the Pirates missed their final four shots, and Villanova made five free throws down the stretch, including three by Nardi.

Seton Hall finished 16 of 24 from the free throw line.