Dec. 11, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats scored the final nine points of the game to rally to a 65-61 victory over Saint Joseph's on Tuesday night at the Pavilion. The game-winning basket was a 3-pointer from the wing by junior guard James Bell.
VU improves to 6-4 overall, 2-2 in the Philadelphia Big Five while the Hawks fall to 5-3 overall, 0-1 in the City Series.
"This is a very good win for us," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "I think we learned a lot tonight."
The key down the stretch was Bell, who in addition to the 3-pointer with 28 seconds left also sank the final two free throws to seal the outcome with 2.4 seconds remaining on the clock.
"I think this the third time he's done that this year," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright of Bell, who tied JayVaughn Pinkston for team-high with 12 points. "He's done it a lot already. The kid's got guts."
Langston Galloway led the Hawks with 22 points while Carl Jones added 16 points.
Saint Joseph's gained the upper hand in the early moments of the contest off a 3-pointer from Galloway and a short jumper by Jones. But the Wildcats quality defense began to pay dividends, forcing three turnovers which helped spark a 17-6 run over the next eight minutes that was capped by a long 3-pointer from Darrun Hilliard to make it 17-11 in favor of the Wildcats with 11:28 to play in the first half.
Four straight free throws by the Hawks shaved the margin to two before a Jones 3-pointer gave Saint Joseph's back the lead at 18-17 with 9:54 left in the period. A running right hander by Bell ended the burst and gave the Wildcats back the lead with 8:53 to go before the break.
Saint Joseph's added to their run with a basket from Jones and a pair of free throws in the wake of a technical foul called on Wildcats coach Jay Wright. The Hawks pushed the lead to 31-26 but 3-point goals from Bell and Arcidiacono in the final minutes allowed Villanova to take a 33-31 lead at halftime.
One first half key was that the Wildcats forced 11 Saint Joseph's turnovers to help offset a .364 percentage from the field. Yacoubou provided eight points in the period while Galloway's 13 points led the Hawks.
The game continued to see-saw back and forth in the second period in what was a rugged defensive struggle. Neither team led by more than five points and it took nearly 18 minutes of play for that to matieralize. A Galloway 3-pointer with 2:13 left on the clock gave the Hawks a 61-56 advantage and it appeared that might be enough.
However, Bell was fouled on the next possession by Halil Kanacevic, whose gesture to the VU student section earlier in the half after sinking a 3-point goal had drawn the ire of the sellout crowd here. Bell dropped in both free throws with two minutes left to narrow the deficit to 61-58.
The Wildcats forced a Hawk turnover on the ensuing possession and freshman Daniel Ochefu collected a missed Pinkston shot and deposited the put-back to shave the deficit to 61-60 with 1:08 on the clock in regulation.
Ochefu fouled Kanacevic with 45 seconds left and the Saint Joseph's forward failed to convert either free throw and Mouphtaou Yarou grabbed the defensive board. After a Wildcat timeout, freshman Ryan Arcidiacono found a wide-open Bell on the left wing and Bell calmly dropped in the basket with 28 seconds on the clock.
"Coach called a play in the huddle," stated Bell. "I was actually the last look on the play. He puts me in great position to do what I do best. We all have the same philosophy - shoot em' up, sleep in the streets. I was two for six but I just had to step up.
"It's a good feeling, but as Coach always says, the highs can't be too high and the lows can't be too low. We had to get a stop on the other end and I was worried about getting back."
The Wildcats had to survive that defensive possession and forced a turnover, the 18th of the night for the Hawks, when Maurice Sutton knocked Kanacevic's inbound pass back into him. VU then inbounded the ball and Bell was fouled. He sank a pair of free throws with 2.4 seconds left to secure the win.
Next up for VU is a home date on Sunday against Delaware (4:02 p.m./ESPNU).