For the second time in five days, Villanova dominated an opposing team in the second half of play, but this time in a different manner than anticipated.
The Wildcats outscored Mount St. Mary's 60-16 in the paint en route to a 90-59 victory Wednesday night at the Pavilion in front of a packed house in Radnor, Pa. Five Wildcats scores in double figures and were led by junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston who recorded his second consecutive 20-point game, by collecting 21 points in 28 minutes and grabbing two rebounds and a block.
Darrun Hilliard also shot well from the floor. He scored 18 points (8-for-10 shooting) in 24 minutes and shot 50 percent from the perimeter. But the main player for the Wildcats in a 46-point second half, came from the efforts of freshman Josh Hart.
Hart's tenacity on the court was well documented in his first outing as a Wildcat and it poured into Wednesday night in a big way. Hart finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, Villanova's first double-double of the season. Yet between the five players in multiple scoring, Coach Wright still was excited by the effort his team showed.
From Mike Sheridan of the Villanova Media Department:
"I thought we played well," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "I was very pleased with how we played. We have work to do but I thought we defended the three pretty well for us. Probably a great 3-point defensive team wouldn't have been happy with that, but from where we've been, it was a good effort."
The Wildcats struggled against the Mountaineers early, something that wasn't expected from a lowly-Northeast conference team. Big man, Daniel Ochefu, got into early foul trouble and 'Nova looked rattled starting off behind the Mountaineers 8-7. But it was the defensive efforts of Philly-native Tony Chennault that helped spark a 16-0 run that saw Villanova take the lead and never look back. It was constant ball pressure that took the Mount out of the game early.
Mount St. Mary's struggled greatly in the first half. They shot 34.5 percent compared to 'Nova's 58 percent front the field. But that's when the Wildcats superb second half efforts started to come about. The club forced the Mount to shoot 25 percent from the field while the Wildcats jumped to an outstanding 68 percent from the field.
But outside of Hart's amazing play and the scoring of Pinkston, it was Chennault, Philly's first-born, that shouldered the load for the Wildcats when it mattered most.
"Tony had a great game," noted Wright. "Even with the lip, Tony played fearlessly. I was really psyched that he played that hard even with the lip. He's just so solid with the ball. He's playing like a senior point guard. He's controlling the ball, he's controlling the game against their pressure. We broke their pressure and got shots. Defensively, he's great on the ball.
"He definitely gave us an infusion of energy. You don't have to run offense with him. He gets into the lane and can score. He gets people shots and it's valuable to have a guy like that."
Senior guard Julian Norfleet, the lead scorer for the Mountaineers, finished with 15 points and four assists in thirty minutes on 5-for-14 shooting, a poor display. Guard Sam Prescott also had 13 points in the loss. The Mountaineers missed forty shots (29.8 percent) against the Wildcats pressure defense on Wednesday night, shooting 17-for-57 from the field and shot similarly (29.6 percent) from the arc only hitting eight of twenty-seven shots.
- Tony Chennault had several stitches in his lip after a collision on Tuesday's practice that saw him still injured during game time. He finished with a game high six assists accompanied with five points in 23 minutes of action
- Ryan Arcidiacono seems to be on the road to recovery from his bruised ribs he suffered almost two weeks ago. Arch score nine points on 3-for-5 shooting and dished four assists but with three turnovers. Leaps and bounds better than Friday against Lafayette.
- Sophomore Henry Lowe scored the first points of his career when the #BenchMob got time at the end of the game by way of a Nick McMahon assist.
- After falling into dangerous foul trouble, Daniel Ochefu only played eight minutes due to four player fouls. He only had two points from the free throw line and was 0-for-3 from the field
- Villanova as a team shot 62.7 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from behind the arc against Mount St. Mary's. They were also 10-for-17 from the free throw line. Coach Wright said they've had "improved practices since Lafayette."