March 1, 2012
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Villanova Wildcats crafted a 16-point lead over the first 20 minutes and then held off Rutgers in the second half to post a 77-71 victory here on Thursday night. The Wildcats improved to 12-17 overall, 5-12 in the BIG EAST while the Scarlet Knights fell to 13-17 overall, 5-12 in the conference.
"This was just a good team win for us," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "We weren't pretty in the second half, especially, but we battled through this and got the win."
The Wildcats were making shots at the outset to build a 13-9 lead over the Scarlet Knights as Dominic Cheek (five points) and JayVaughn Pinkston set the tone. Cheek's second triple of the night pushed the VU lead to 18-9 with 14:53 to play in the first half.
The run continued for the next few minutes, growing to 15-0 after a Pinkston tip-in pushed the advantage to 28-9.
With Cheek on the bench with his second personal foul, it was Wayns carrying the offensive load for the 'Cats. The junior sank 5-of-6 from the field in the half to finish the period with 12 points.
At the half Villanova held a 48-32 lead. The Wildcats were 18-of-26 from the field and 8-of-10 from outside the 3-point arc.
The early stages of the second half, however, offered a Rutgers response. The Scarlet Knights turned on the full-court defensive pressure and took advantage, forcing six Wildcat turnovers. A traditional 3-point play with 14:02 was vital in two respects. It narrowed the deficit to 52-48 and the foul was whistled on Wayns, his fourth.
The contest was tight the rest of the way. But key plays by Pinkston, Wayns and Mouphtaou Yarou allowed the 'Cats to keep the lead through the final possession.
"Teams are going to make their runs and Coach Wright told us to just keep grinding," stated VU freshman Ty Johnson, who sank two key free throws late after Wayns had fouled out.
Wayns and Pinkston shared scoring honors, finishing with 18 points apiece. Yarou contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds for VU, which heads back to the Pavilion to host Cincinnati on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN 950 Radio).