March 7, 2007
NEW YORK (AP) -Freshman Scottie Reynolds scored 29 points and made eight free throws in the last 4 minutes to lead ninth-seeded Villanova to a 75-67 victory over DePaul in the opening round of the Big East tournament Wednesday.
Curtis Sumpter added 25 points and the Wildcats (22-9) won their fourth straight, advancing to play top-seeded Georgetown (23-6) in the second round Thursday. The Hoyas received a first-round bye.
Sammy Mejia scored 20 points, and Wilson Chandler and Draelon Burns each had 18 for DePaul (18-13), which was playing in its first Big East tournament after joining the conference last season.
Reynolds was outstanding as Villanova's playmaker with senior Mike Nardi sidelined for most of the game with a left ankle injury. Nardi was injured in the first half of the Wildcats' victory over Syracuse on Saturday, and only played 5 minutes in this one.
But Reynolds made sure Nardi wasn't completely missed. He shot 6-of-19 from the field, including 4-of-11 from 3-point range, and was 13-of-16 from the foul line to tie a Villanova record for points in the Big East tournament. Kerry Kittles also scored 29 against Providence on March 11, 1995.
Villanova led 28-26 at halftime, but came out shooting to start the second half. The Wildcats took a 39-28 lead - their biggest - on an 11-2 run that included two 3-pointers by Sumpter and another by Reggie Redding.
The Blue Demons kept chipping away, getting within three points three times, but just couldn't make any big stops on the Wildcats.
After Mejia got DePaul within five at 57-52 with a layup with 4:48 left, Reynolds made two free throws and then missed a 3 before Chandler hit one of his own to cut the Blue Demons' deficit to 59-55 with 2:57 left. Reggie Redding's jumper made it 61-55, but Mejia hit two free throws with 2:07 remaining to make it a four-point game.
It was a foul shooting clinic from there, with Villanova going 14-of-18 from the line, including Reynolds' 6-of-8, as the Wildcats sealed the victory. It was a good thing Villanova was so good from the foul line - 33-of-38 - because it shot just 17-of-47 (36.2 percent) from the field.
The Wildcats improved to 16-1 this season when they score at least 70 points this season.
Villanova led by as many eight in the first half and was up 25-18 with 5:42 left when DePaul went on a 6-0 run - capped by Burns' jumper to pull within 25-24 with 3:30 left. After Sumpter's 3-pointer with 2:08 remaining gave the Wildcats a 28-24 lead, Mejia driving layup with just over 2 seconds left made it 28-26 at halftime.
The lead could've been a lot bigger for Villanova, which shot just 8-of-25 (32 percent) from the field - including 4-of-11 from 3-point range - in the half. DePaul wasn't much better, shooting 12-of-31 (38.7 percent) and 1-of-9 on 3s.