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Strong Defense Lifts Wildcats over Vanderbilt, 62-52
Mouphtaou Yarou

Dec. 1, 2012

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Villanova Wildcats used strong defense and timely scoring from senior Mouphtaou Yarou to defeat Vanderbilt here today in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge 62-52 at Memorial Gymnasium. The `Cats are now 4-3 overall while the Commodores are 2-4.

"That was a good road win for us," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "There were a few points in the second half where they made runs and we were able to answer them. It was a good step for our team."

Mouphtaou Yarou led the Wildcats with 16 points and seven rebounds. Rod Odom paced Vandy with 14 points.

Sophomore Darrun Hilliard opened the scoring with a triple in the game's first minute before Vanderbilt ran off eight straight points to grab the early advantage. Kedren Johnson helped spark that push with a 3-point goal and he added another a short time later to extend the advantage to 12-7.

The Wildcats got a lift from their bench, however, in the person of JayVaughn Pinkston and Tony Chennault. Pinkston scored six points and Chennault added a 3-pointer as Villanova used a 12-4 spurt to reclaim a 3-point lead with 7:38 left on the first half clock.

There would be eight first half lead changes and the last saw Villanova jump back in front and claim a 31-26 lead at halftime. Pinkston led the charge in the period with eight points and five rebounds for VU. The Wildcats were 5-of-12 from 3-point territory and picked up eight points in the paint in the first 20 minutes.

The Wildcats were twice able to extend the advantage to eight points early in the second half. The second of those occasions came when sophomore Achraf Yacoubou dropped in an 8-foot rainbow floater to make it 39-34 with just under 12 minutes to go in the second half.

Another Johnson 3-pointer narrowed the gap to 39-37 before James Bell responded with a 3-pointer of his own from the corner. Each time Villanova stretched out its advantage, the Commodores seemingly answered. They were back to within 46-44 after a pair of Shelby Moats with 7:18 in the period.

Each time Vandy made a push, Villanova had a response. Yarou played a major role in the second half, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the period..

Villanova limited Vanderbilt to .370 shooting on the day and owned a 34-28 advantage on the glass. Its bench outscored the Commodores 21-9.

"I thought we did a better job defensively in the second half," stated Wright, "and Mouph made some big plays for us down the stretch."

Pinkston added 13 points and eight rebounds while Hilliard, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Bell contributed eight points apiece.

Next up for Villanova is a home date with Philadelphia Big Five rival Temple on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2).