Dec. 22, 2012
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - A barrage of 3-point field goals helped lift Villanova past Monmouth here on Saturday night at the Multipurpose Athletic Center. The Wildcats drained 15 from beyond the arc - in 22 attempts - on their way to an 83-56 triumph here tonight.
Villanova improves to 8-4 overall with its fourth consecutive victory. Monmouth falls to 5-7 overall on the 2012-13 campaign.
"Monmouth plays really hard," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "(Coach) King (Rice) is setting a tone here that they are really going to come after you. They forced 19 turnovers and I give them a lot of credit because that's a good way to come after us.
"Our first half defense was average. I thought our second half defense was great. JayVaughn was outstanding distributing the ball. To have a forward who can do that, is really valuable. And James Bell is just our leader."
"They keep getting better," stated Monmouth coach King Rice. "I have watched a lot of them and they have great chemistry. They're a fun team to watch but not a fun team to play against. When they make shots like they did, there isn't much we could have done."
Six different Wildcats sank 14 triples, three shy of the Villanova record established in a 2005 game at the Pavilion against Lehigh.
Pinkston led the Wildcats with 16 points to go with a career-high eight assists while Bell added 15 points for the winners. Andrew Nicholas paced Monmouth with 16 points.
The early minutes of the contest were characterized by shot-making and miscues with the basketball. In the game's first four minutes each team committed four turnovers but offset that with accuracy from the field. VU connected on its four field goal attempts and Monmouth answered by converting 3-of-4. It was 10-7 in favor of the Wildcats at the first official timeout of the game.
The trend largely continued for the remainder of the first half. Villanova capitalized at the offensive end while the shooting of Monmouth's Andrew Nicholas (10 points in the first half) and a substantial rebounding advantage (16-8) helped keep the Hawks within striking distance.
With 3:47 to play before intermission, the VU lead was 34-27.
However, the Wildcats ended the period on a 10-2 run sparked in large part by the work of junior transfer Tony Chennault. The product of Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia sank a 3-pointer and added a pair of free throws in the final minute to help VU craft a 44-29 advantage at the break.
Chennault and Pinkston paced the Wildcats with eight points apiece while Bell added seven. VU connected on .600 of its attempts while holding Monmouth to .420 of its attempts.
The Hawks reeled off the first six points of the second half thanks to the work of Nicholas, who drained a 3-pointer and followed it with a traditional 3-point play. Monmouth narrowed the deficit to 44-36 before a dunk by Maurice Sutton gave them their first points of the second half. The lead was back to 15 a short while later, though, thanks to 3-pointers from Bell and Pinkston.
"We told the team that if you let a guy like Nicholas or (Jesse) Steele get it going, that's how you can get beat," stated Wright. "I thought we did a better job after the first couple of minutes of finding those guys."
Villanova's defensive work and long-rage accuracy kept the heat on the Hawks. VU sank nine of its first 12 attempts from beyond the arc and stretched the margin to 60-40 with a bit more than 11 minutes to play in the period.
The Wildcats pushed the lead to 79-51 with just over three minutes remaining. The final count was 83-56.
"I think we are improving but there is a lot of room for us to keep improving," stated Wright. "Nineteen turnovers is too many. But we're doing some good things defensively and are doing a better job of playing off of our forwards."
Once the calendar turns to 2013, Villanova will step into BIG EAST action when St. John's visits the Pavilion on Jan. 2 at 8:00 p.m. (PHL 17/610 WIP). That is the first of 18 conference games on tap this season.