Pena, Reynolds lead ‘Nova to 81-63 rout of LaSalle
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP)—Villanova coach Jay Wright can find plenty of things wrong with an 18 point victory. His team gave him the opportunity to try on Saturday.
Antonio Pena and Scottie Reynolds scored 14 points each, and the No. 4 Wildcats unnerved city rival LaSalle with their defense in an 81-63 victory that left Wright none too pleased.
“There’s a good chance we won’t be sending that one to Springfield,” Wright said, referring to the Hall of Fame.
Corey Fisher added 13 points and six steals and Dominic Cheek had 10 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who have won eight straight over the Explorers and 20 of the last 21 against Big 5 teams, including Temple, Saint Joseph’s and Penn.
“You’ve got to battle through these,” Wright said. “I never hold our team responsible for how we look in these games.”
Villanova also won its 30th straight at The Pavilion, its 6,500-seat on-campus arena. The streak began with a 102-87 victory over Notre Dame on Jan. 17, 2007.
Kimmani Barrett scored 17 points, Jerrell Williams added 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, and Aaric Murray had 15 points and 14 rebounds for LaSalle (3-2), which hasn’t beaten Villanova since Nov. 27, 2001.
“I thought my team’s effort was tremendous,” LaSalle coach John Giannini said. “If we could have avoided some mental breakdowns and made free throws, it could have been much closer.”
Leading scorer Rodney Green entered the game averaging 20 points, but was limited to seven on 2-of-13 shooting. Green had scored at least 10 points in 30 straight games.
“Pressure, pressure,” Green said, “too much pressure.”
The Explorers missed their first seven 3-pointers and finished 1 for 10 from beyond the arc. They weren’t much better from the foul line, where they were only 20 of 37.
“The free-throw shooting was absurd,” Giannini said.
LaSalle struggled mightily against Villanova’s full-court pressure, especially in the first half. The Explorers, missing guard Ruben Guillandeaux with a sore foot, committed a season-high 19 turnovers in the opening half. They finished with 27 against Villanova’s active trap.
“We caused turnovers in the first half,” Wright said. “That was the best thing we did, especially on the perimeter.”
Still, LaSalle hung around and trailed 45-39 early in the second half. A 10-2 run by ‘Nova extended the lead to 55-41 with 11:13 remaining.
A 3-pointer by Corey Stokes from the top of the key gave Villanova a 61-44 lead with 8:55 left, and LaSalle never crept within double figures the rest of the way.
Villanova leads 33-26 in the all-time series with LaSalle.