Strong Start Helps Villanova Glide Past Queen's University 73-43
Sept. 2, 2007
OTTAWA - In a nod to the unique reality of a day-night basketball doubleheader, its starting lineup included no one who has ever started a regular season college basketball game. Yet in spite of its inexperience, Villanova again demonstrated a tenacious defense and cruised to a 73-43 victory over Queen's University to improve to 2-0 on its Labor Day exhibition game tour of this Canadian city.
The Wildcats scored 23 of the game's first 25 points and were never threatened in the game played at Carleton University's Raven Nest. Villanova meets the University of Ottawa in another game this evening at 7:00 p.m.
"We decided coming in that we wanted to get a great look at our young guys," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "With two games in one day, we looked at this as an opportunity to test our younger players. I thought they responded well, especially on defense."
The `Cats starting lineup featured junior swingman Dwayne Anderson, redshirt freshmen Antonio Pena and Andrew Ott, along with natural freshman guards Malcolm Grant and Corey Stokes. Juniors Dante Cunningham, Shane Clark and sophomores Scottie Reynolds and Reggie Redding did not see action. Those four are expected to see plenty of minutes in the second game this evening.
Villanova spread the wealth from the outset. Grant scored the game's first basket and that was followed by 3-point field goals from Anderson and Stokes. A Pena bucket gave the Wildcats a 10-0 advantage with 15:31 left. Stokes, Anderson and Grant each drained triples over the next three minutes to help the `Cats push out to a 23-2 edge.
At halftime, Villanova owned a 44-16 lead. The Golden Gaels connected on just 5-of-33 (.152) from the field.
In the second half, the Wildcats worked extensively on their interior game. Drummond (10 points and 12 rebounds) and Ott (seven points and nine caroms in 20 minutes of action before fouling out) both delivered encouraging performances.
"It was great to get `Cas and Ott extended minutes," said Wright. "A lot of times in games we are forced to take them out when they are tired. Today we were able to allow them to play through the fatigue and I thought both of them handled it well."
Ott practiced in 2006-07 but did not appear in games as he worked to add strength to his 6-10 frame. This was his first live game action since last November's exhibition game and he was grateful to be on the court in a Villanova uniform.
"It just felt good being out there with my teammates," he stated. "It had been a long time. I have a lot to work on, though."
For his part, Drummond made a substantial impact on the contest in 26 minutes off the bench. He went to the free throw line 14 times and tossed several impressive kick out feeds to the guards, resulting in a pair of assists to go with a block and a steal. But he was more impressed by the effort at the defensive end of the court.
"I think the defense stood out," the 6-9 Drummond said. "We were getting stops early and that usually leads to scoring. It helped us get the lead."
As was the case in the opening win over Carleton, the Wildcats applied stifling defense - the Golden Gaels connected on just .250 of their field goal attempts on the afternoon - despite very little time spent together on the floor.
"For a group of guys that hasn't played much together, I thought we played very well," Drummond said. "A lot of us know one another from AAU and high school ball, so we know each other's games and that makes it easier."
Stokes paced Villanova with 17 points to go with seven rebounds in 38 minutes. Grant dropped in 14 points to go with four assists while Anderson posted a double-double of his own (10 points, 10 rebounds). Pena chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds in 32 minutes. Jon Ogden led Queen's with 21 points.
After two games, Wright likes the early signs he has witnessed.
"I'm excited about the possibilities," he says. "I like the way we have played defense and that this is a very unselfish team."