VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP)—Villanova pushed aside yet another Big 5 opponent.
Scottie Reynolds scored 19 points and Corey Fisher added 18 to help No. 18 Villanova close out December with a 71-58 victory over La Salle on Saturday night.
Dante Cunningham had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats (10-1), who won their sixth straight game and their sixth in a row over the Explorers.
Villanova picked up its 14th consecutive win over a Big 5 opponent, which also includes games against Penn, Temple and Saint Joseph’s. Villanova hasn’t dropped a Big 5 game since falling to Temple 53-52 on Dec. 4, 2004.
“I don’t think they (freshmen) realize anything about the streak,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “They haven’t been here long enough. It’s a good learning experience for them.”
The Wildcats went 6-0 in December, and are 29-3 in November and December over the past three seasons.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but I can see progress,” Wright said.
Darnell Harris scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half for the Explorers (4-7), who have lost three straight. Jerrell Williams added 12, Kimmani Barrett had 11 and Rodney Green 10. The Explorers have lost five straight Big 5 contests. They haven’t beaten a ranked team since a victory over No. 18 Saint Joseph’s on March 3, 2001.
“When we play this level team (Villanova), we can’t have these ebbs and flows,” La Salle coach John Giannini said.
Villanova maintained a double-figure lead through most of the second half. Williams hit one of two free throws with 3:14 remaining to cut the Villanova lead to 60-51. But Reynolds hit a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer for a 65-51 advantage with 2:19 left.
La Salle shot just 38 percent from the field and committed 22 turnovers.
“It’s expected every game,” Giannini said of the turnovers. “It’s just a little worse than average. It’s no surprise.”
The Wildcats trailed midway through the first half before putting together a 13-0 run to take a 28-17 lead with 8:08 remaining. Fisher scored the first nine points during the spurt—a four-point play, jumper and a 3-pointer. Villanova then increased its advantage to 43-30 at halftime. Reynolds scored 10 of Villanova’s final 11 points to close out the half.
Beginning Jan. 3 at De Paul, the Wildcats will embark on a critical 18-game conference schedule with one additional game against city rival Saint Joseph’s on Feb. 4.
“It’s definitely a marathon, the Big East season with 18 games,” Wright said. “None of us have been through that. It will be a war night in and night out,” Fisher said.
Before the game, Villanova announced that sophomore center Casiem Drummond has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right ankle. There is no timetable for his return. Drummond started six of Villanova’s first eight games and is averaging 7.1 points and 7.9 rebounds.