Wildcats Fall to Cincinnati 72-68
March 3, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Cincinnati held off a Villanova second half surge on Saturday at the Pavilion to post a 72-68 victory over the Wildcats in a BIG EAST matinee at the Pavilion. The game concludes VU's regular season (12-18 overall, 5-13 BIG EAST).
The game was tied at 58 with 5:26 remaining before Cincinnati sank back-to-back 3-pointers to take the lead for good. Villanova closed to within 67-65 with 40 seconds left but watched as UC sank its free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
"I was disappointed with how we came out and started the game," stated VU head coach Jay Wright. "I don't know if the fact we got back here at 1:30 in the morning on Friday affected us, but it shouldn't (have). If you have a mature team it should not affect you. Something affected us and we didn't come out with the proper energy to play the game.
"You've got to give Cincinnati credit. They came in here, they needed a win and they got a road win. That's why they're a good team. Their guards controlled the game and made big threes when they needed them."
Junior Mouphtaou Yarou picked up the game's first four points for the Wildcats before the Bearcats responded with a 9-0 run to open up a five point lead with 15:49 to play in the first. Sean Kilpatrick was responsible for five of those early Cincinnati points.
Yancy Gates sank a pair of free throws with 12:25 left to play in the first to extend the Cincinnati lead to 18-11. A Kilpatrick jumper pushed the lead to 20-11. But the work of Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns helped VU cut the gap to 26-24 with just over six minutes to play in the first period.
Second chance points were especially damaging to the Wildcats. Offensive rebounds on consecutive possessions allowed Cincinnati to rebuild the lead to 31-24 with 4:48 remaining in the half. VU got to within three but a late triple by Cashmere Wright just before the buzzer gave the Bearcats a 40-32 advantage at halftime.
Cincinnati outscored Villanova 20-4 in points in the paint in the first period and had eight offensive rebounds. Gates paced UC with 10 points and four caroms while Kilpatrick added nine more for the Bearcats, who connected on 16-of-31 field goal attempts in the half.
JayVaughn Pinkston sank a 3-point goal for the Wildcats from the top of the key to open the second half for VU. But Cincinnati's offensive balance allowed the Bearcats to keep VU at arm's length midway through the half. It was 47-40 with just over 13 minutes to play in the period.
A Wayns short jumper capped a 7-0 run with 11: 42 to go to draw Villanova even. On the next possession, Pinkston fouled JaQuon Parker as he attempted a 3-pointer, sending Parker to the line for three free throws. Parker drained two of his attempts to push the Bearcats back in front.
Wayns responded with a triple to give VU its first lead of the day at 50-49 before Dixon supplied the Bearcats with a three. A pair of baskets by Gates pushed the UC lead to 56-53 with under nine minutes left in the half.
VU battled back to knot the game at 58 before a Kilpatrick triple gave Cincinnati back the lead at 61-58 with just over four minutes to go. After Villanova was unable to respond another UC dagger from long range put the Bearcats in front 64-58 with 3:09 left on the game clock.
A pair of free throws by Sutton and a short turnaround jumper by Yarou brought VU back to within 64-62 with 1:48 to go. Another huge triple, this one by Dixon with 57 seconds left pushed the UC lead back to five before Wayns answered with a 3-point basket with 42 seconds to play in regulation.
After nearly forcing a turnover on the sideline, Villanova was forced to foul Dixon, who dropped in both free throws to make it 69-65 with 23.9 seconds left. Yarou was fouled with 19 seconds to play and sank one of two to pull VU to within 69-66. However, Parker calmly dropped in two more free throws with 17.6 seconds left to push the advantage to 71-66. Wayns drove and scored to shave the gap to three with 10.4 seconds left.
Cincinnati, though, delivered another free throw from Dixon and after an empty final possession by the Wildcats, had earned win No. 22 on the season (22-9 overall, 12-6 BIG EAST).
The Wildcats will receive word late Saturday night of their opponent in the opening round of the BIG EAST Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters. The conference office will announce the 16-team bracket at the completion of tonight's BIG EAST regular season action.