It took the entire 40 minutes of play for coach Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats to feel comfortable about the game.
That's because Bucknell's Chris Hass lit up the scoreboard for 32 points. Fortunately for the Wildcats, no other Bison player had a large contribution. It took a late second half effort for No. 12 Villanova to come away with a 72-65 victory.
Villanova powered out to an early 7-0 lead and looked to be in control from the get go. With the help of 13 first half turnovers from Bucknell, the Cats looked like they were going to take a double digit lead into halftime. But the Bison hit back-to-back three-point shots to take momentum into the locker room, down only 33-26.
Villanova could not keep Hass in check, as Bucknell came roaring back to tie the game at 39 apiece. It would remain a back and forth struggle the rest of the way. But with under two minutes reaming Daniel Ochefu blocked two Bucknell shots and hit a free throw to give Nova a one point lead they would not relinquish. Dylan Ennis connected on two free throws, and with nine seconds left, a Darrun Hilliard slam dunk put an exclamation point on a hard earned victory for Villanova.
Four Villanova starters finished with double-digit points, led by Hilliard who had 16. Ochefu grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with his 15 points. And Ryan Arcidiacono was perfect from the charity stripe (6-6 FT) as he tallied 15 points.
Once again, Villanova shot the ball poorly from behind the arc. Nova was 1-12 in the first held, and finished 5-22 from 3-point land for a whopping 23 percent shooting average.
Villanova improves to 3-0 on the season. They get their first taste of big time competition this year on Monday, when they head to the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn to take on No. 15 VCU. Tip off is set for 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2.