Feb. 15, 2007
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) - Mike Nardi scored 16 points and Villanova used a 22-0 run against overmatched Cincinnati in a 64-48 win on Wednesday night.
Dante Cunningham scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Wildcats (18-7, 6-5 Big East). Villanova made the most of a soft stretch in its schedule, and will take a four-game winning streak into its game Saturday against No. 14 Georgetown.
After hitting a couple of 3-pointers to open the game, the Bearcats (10-15, 1-10) were completely overwhelmed by the Wildcats. They had an 11 minute, 35 second scoreless drought in the first half, going 0-for-8 with 10 turnovers over an 18-possession span that turned this one into an early blowout.
John Williamson scored 15 points for the Bearcats, who lost their seventh straight game. There's little chance the Bearcats will make the 12-team field for the Big East tournament, and they're headed for their worst finish since they went 11-17 under coach Tony Yates in 1987-88.
Even with a late tipoff and plenty of empty seats, Nardi and the Wildcats came out with their normal spark. He made his first four 3-pointers and Villanova raced to a 22-6 lead.
The Wildcats blew this game open with defense, too. They pressured, trapped and harassed the Bearcats every which way they turned. Curtis Sumpter made a hustling, diving stab for the ball at halfcourt that he fed to Bilal Benn for a fastbreak layup.
The Bearcats had 12 turnovers in the first half that the Wildcats converted into 17 points. One errant pass even bounced into the waiting hands of Villanova coach Jay Wright. Unlike the bumbling Bearcats, Wright held on to the ball.
When Jamual Warren scored to end Cincinnati's scoreless skid and Villanova's 22-0 spurt, the student section broke into mocking sing-song chants of "It's about time!" No worries about a run, though. Cunningham converted a three-point play and the Wildcats stretched their lead to 30-8.
Two free throws helped give the Bearcats 10 points late in the half, leading the student section to chant, "Double digits!"
At least the spirited students made this one a bit more fun - Cincinnati sure wasn't having any. Villanova led 34-17 at the break and Scottie Reynolds opened the second half with a 3-pointer to start Cincinnati's misery all over again.
Villanova should enjoy this one while it can. After a rematch with the Hoyas at the Wachovia Center, the Wildcats play Monday at No. 12 Marquette. Villanova is 2-3 against Top 25 teams this season and needs a strong finish in the final five regular-season games and the Big East tournament to lock up an NCAA tourney bid.
They'll need more offense from Sumpter, their leading scorer with 17.7 points coming into the game. He didn't score until he sank a 3-pointer midway through the second half and finished with eight points.