to Soar Past Bucknell, 79-60
Dec. 6, 2005
LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP) - With a hostile crowd breaking into cheers after Villanova's 19-point lead over Bucknell was trimmed to three, Wildcats coach Jay Wright called a timeout and looked for someone to step up.
Allan Ray answered with some big 3-pointers.
After being held to just two points in the first half, Ray hit two 3-pointers to turn away one second-half surge, then hit two more timely 3s to help No. 4 Villanova beat Bucknell 79-60 on Tuesday night.
Randy Foye led Villanova with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
"That's the advantage of having seniors, we know that Randy and Allan are going to make those big plays when we need them," Wright said.
It was a much-anticipated matchup at Bucknell, a small, private school which made headlines after upsetting Pittsburgh and scoring its shocking win in the NCAA tournament over Kansas last season. This year, the Bison have already beaten Syracuse at the Carrier Dome and defeated DePaul in Chicago last Saturday.
There would be no upset on Tuesday, however, as Ray, Foye and Villanova's four-guard lineup proved too much for Bucknell.
Bucknell's Abe Badmus was able to slice through the Villanova defense for several end-to-end layups, but the guard said his team had to deal with too many talented Wildcats.
"There were just a lot more quick people on the same team," he said.
The Bison did make it interesting after cutting an early 26-7 deficit to 44-41 early in the second half behind a four-point play from Kevin Bettencourt and two inside buckets by center Chris McNaughton.
Ray, who was held to two points in the first half, then took over. He made a 3-pointer from the left corner, Jason Fraser added two free throws and Ray then hit an off-balance 3-pointer to extend the lead to 52-43.
McNaughton, who led the Bison with a career-high 29 points, cut the lead to 54-48 with about 10 minutes left after completing a three-point play that had the fans clad in orange and blue cheering.
Ray answered again, hitting two 3-pointers in a 31-second span before finding Foye for a layup to give the Wildcats a 64-48 lead and quieting the crowd.
Villanova also forced eight of Bucknell's 12 turnovers in the second half and Ray said the team was determined to be more aggressive on defense after halftime.
"With 10 minutes to go, we felt like we had the game," Bucknell coach Pat Flannery said. "But we learned what that kind of speed is. You cannot simulate how quick they are."
A capacity crowd of 4,000 at Sojka Pavilion, including several students who went shirtless and painted their chests orange and blue, were loud most of the evening, hoping that their team could topple another ranked team.
The game served as a homecoming for Wright, who, like Flannery, is a Bucknell graduate and played basketball there. Several fans near Villanova's bench waved placards with pictures of Wright's smiling face from his college days.
"This was a great college atmosphere," Wright said. "I had mixed feelings coming into the gym."
Foye helped Villanova race to its 26-7 lead in the first half after hitting some deep 3-pointers. One came after Villanova grabbed two offensive boards before the guard finally hit a 3 from the wing.
The Wildcats' quickness also helped on the boards, as they outrebounded Bucknell 37-21 and got several second and third chances after some missed shots.
While Bucknell had been holding opponents to 37 shooting coming into the night, the Wildcats hit 50 percent of their shots.