Nov. 17, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Fueled by defensive pressure that forced 24 turnovers, Villanova rolled to a 78-44 victory over Towson in an opening round game of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Sunday at the Pavilion. The Wildcats (3-0 overall, 0-0 BIG EAST) owned a 27-1 edge in points in the paint on their way to the win.
"We played well," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "I told (Towson coach) Pat (Skerry) we've all been there. In the first half they lose their point guard with three fouls. Our press was effective. That got us out to a big lead at halftime. I thought that was a big difference in the game."
"They've got a really good team. But the one area they are young is depth at the point guard spot."
With the game tied at two, Villanova went on a 14-2 run and the Tigers were never able to shave the margin back to single digits.
Senior James Bell led the `Cats with 20 points that included a highlight reel slam off an offensive rebound early in the second half. The product of Orlando, Fla., connected on 7-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-8 from beyond the 3-point arc in just 22 minutes of action.
"(James) is a Villanova senior and if you've been at this school for four years and have been in this program, whether I'm the coach or Steve Lappas or Coach (Rollie) Massimino, guys that are seniors in this program are ready to be leaders and great players," noted Wright. "It's part of being on this campus for four years. That's what he is - a leader.
"He's not worried about scoring at all and that's when you score. If you're a good player and you just worry about playing the right way, you score. And he's a good player. He plays the right way and it just happens."
Added Bell: "I've been here for four years and everything as far as my understanding is on a higher level. My teammates are putting me in great position to make plays."
The tone was set early as the Cats relied on defense to ignite offense in the game's opening minutes. JayVaughn Pinkston opened the scoring with a pair of free throws and Villanova got 3-pointers from Bell, Ryan Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard to build a 14-4 advantage with 15:58 to play in the first half.
Villanova stretched the lead to 18-4 at the 11:55 mark. The `Cats used half and three quarter court traps to help force 10 Tiger turnovers in the first eight minutes of action.
"They're a very good team, especially in the half-court," stated Wright. "We wanted to try to keep them from getting into a flow. We were able to force some turnovers and disrupt them."
The Wildcats kept the defensive pressure on for the entire half and went on to take a 42-20 lead at the break. Bell led all first half scorers with 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the floor while Arcidiacono added eight points.
Towson was constrained by 18 first half turnovers - nine were steals by Villanova. Jerrelle Benimon dropped in six points to lead the Tigers, who connected on 8-of-21 first half field goal attempts.
Pinkston got the Wildcats going in the second half with a basket that was followed by another score from Bell and Villanova had its largest lead to that point of the contest at 46-20 with 18:17 remaining on the second half clock. The margin would rise past 30 points and Villanova was never threatened.
"These guys (Bell and Arcidiacono) as leaders did a great job of making sure that we kept our concentration with a big lead," Wright stated. "I was really proud of that."
Three other `Cats ended the night in double figures, including Pinkston and Arcidiacono, who each had 12 points, and Hilliard, who added 10 more. The Wildcats were actually outscored 26-20 but that stat mattered little on a night when their defense was in top form. Villanova created 11 steals.
Benimon led Towson with 11 points and six rebounds.
This was the third in a series of four straight home games for Villanova to open 2013-14. Next up for the Wildcats is a Pavilion clash with Delaware on Friday , Nov. 22, at 7:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1).