Wildcats Flash Firepower in 103-72 win at Ottawa
Sept. 2, 2007
OTTAWA - After producing stellar defensive efforts in its first two outings on its Labor Day exhibition tour here, Villanova demonstrated its offensive firepower in a 103-72 victory here over the University of Ottawa on Sunday night. Six Wildcats scored in double figures and the squad blistered the nets by converting .696 of its field goal attempts on the night.
The `Cats (3-0) will wrap up their Canadian trip with a contest at noon on Saturday against an all-star team at Carleton University.
"I liked our aggressiveness tonight at both ends of the court," stated Wildcats head coach Jay Wright. "We created some fouls with that aggressiveness and that contributed to the higher point total for Ottawa. But we limited them to 35 percent shooting and overall I thought we gave a very good effort against a well-coached team."
For the first time on its tour, Villanova found itself staring at a deficit in the early going. Ottawa guard Josh Gisbon-Bascome helped the Gee Gee's build a 23-20 advantage with 12:41 left to go in the first half, igniting the packed house at the 1,500 seat Montpetit Hall. But sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds, who would end the night leading the Wildcats with 19 points and six assists in 26 minutes, drained a pair of triples to push VU to a 28-23 lead at the 10:49 mark. The `Cats would not trail again.
By halftime, VU had extended its lead to 58-41 thanks in no small part to .793 shooting from the floor.
Any hopes of a comeback by Ottawa were dashed early in the second half. Junior Dante Cunningham scored five points in the first four minutes of the stanza and Reynolds drilled a pair of 3-point field goals to extend the edge to 73-48 with 14:56 to go in the contest. From there, the `Cats cruised home to the 103-72 triumph.
For the night, Villanova converted 14-of-19 from beyond the 3-point arc. Reynolds dropped in all five of his triple attempts while freshman Corey Stokes was 4-of-6 from deep.
Cunningham delivered another strong performance with 14 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Freshmen Malcolm Grant came off the bench to add 13 points in 26 minutes while classmate Stokes finished with 12 points in 22 minutes. Sophomore Reggie Redding was efficient in contributing 12 points and five rebounds while frosh Corey Fisher came up with 11 points, three rebounds and two assists in his first starting assignment of the trip.
Though upbeat about what he has seen here, Cunningham stills sees toil ahead.
"As everybody knows, we have some very talented offensive players," said the junior from Silver Spring, one of two returning starters from 2006-07. "We need to keep working on our defense. Villanova is known for its tenacity and that is something we want to maintain."
Wright spoke earlier today about the unselfishness he sees and Cunningham has taken note of it as well.
"Our freshmen accomplished a lot before they came here," he says. "They came in as All-Americans and with other accolades so we knew they were great players. It would have been easy for them to come in thinking about themselves. But they aren't like that. They listen and want to learn. They really care about the team."
Cunningham undoubtedly benefited from the 3-point accuracy of his perimeter teammates in this contest.
"It definitely opens things up inside when the threes are falling," Cunningham stated. "Cas (Drummond) had some good kick outs and we moved the ball pretty well tonight."
Redding was steady as well. The Philadelphia native provided a host of intangibles as he moved into the playing rotation in the second half of 2006-07 but was inconsistent with his own shooting. On this occasion he connected on 5-of-6 from the floor and both of his 3-point attempts.
"I think all the work I put in this summer is starting to pay off," he stated. "I feel more confident in my game now than I did last season. And there is still more I can do."
"We still have one game to play," noted Wright. "But I am encouraged by what I have seen so far. We have gotten the opportunity to face some well-coached teams. The environment here tonight was awesome, just as it was last night at Carleton. And our staff has had a chance to look at a lot of different combinations."
NOVA NOTES: The starting lineup featured Reynolds and Fisher in the backcourt, along with Redding, Shane Clark and Cunningham up front. Cunningham led the `Cats with 28 minutes while Antonio Pena and Reynolds each logged 26 minutes...
Monday marks the first day of classes at the University of Ottawa and much of the crowd included freshmen participating in orientation. Fans were handed out thunder sticks which raised the noise level considerably, especially early in the contest. Thunder sticks are not permitted in NCAA venues...
The Wildcats will face a group of Carleton and Ottawa alums at noon on Monday. The team is scheduled to return to Villanova following the game.
Carleton, Villanova's first opponent here, defeated the University of Alabama by 12 points here this evening.