Pena’s double-double leads No. 3 Villanova
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP)—As each shot clanged off the rim, the passionate Villanova fan base was noticeably nervous. Not Wildcats coach Jay Wright.
Despite holding a mere 15-10 lead with 6 minutes remaining in the first half against Drexel on Wednesday night, Wright was more than pleased with his team’s effort.
He knew the Wildcats would eventually make a run. They did.
Antonio Pena scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Taylor King added 16 points as No. 3 Villanova overcame a sluggish start for a 77-58 victory over its city rival.
“I always feel like we’ll get it going,” Wright said. “I just felt so good about the way we were playing defense.”
Scottie Reynolds had 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Wildcats (7-0), who improved to 18-1 all-time against the Dragons. The only loss occurred on Dec. 9, 2006, when Drexel stunned Villanova 81-76 to snap its 17-game losing streak against the Wildcats.
“We just had to regroup, come out and execute,” said Reynolds, the only current player who was on the roster for that loss to Drexel nearly three years ago.
Villanova hasn’t lost much on campus since that defeat. The Wildcats have won 32 consecutive games at The Pavilion, its 6,500-seat arena. The streak began with a 102-87 win over Notre Dame on Jan. 17, 2007.
Derrick Thomas scored a career-high 23 points while Chris Fouch added a career-high 20 for Drexel (3-5), which shot 31 percent (18 of 58).
“We self-destructed in a lot of ways,” Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. “We fell down going after loose balls. We tripped. We didn’t play well.”
Samme Givens had 10 rebounds for the Dragons.
Jamie Harris (17.3) and Gerald Colds (11.6), Drexel’s top two scorers, didn’t score on a combined 0-for-17 shooting from the field. Colds missed nine shots, Harris eight.
“I was disappointed in those two guys,” Flint said. “They were awful.”
Fouch’s 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range kept Drexel somewhat close. His fourth 3-pointer closed the Dragons within 46-30 with 12:49 left. But Villanova responded with a 10-0 run—five points by Pena—to go ahead 56-30 with 10:23 remaining. Drexel never posed a threat the rest of the game.
The Dragons opened the game by missing their first 13 field goal attempts and four free throws over a 9:42 span. Thomas finally made a 3-pointer with 10:18 left in the first half, pulling Drexel within 11-3.
Villanova’s poor shooting kept the game close as it held a 15-10 lead with 6 minutes left in the first half. The Wildcats led 34-18 at halftime.
Drexel was 7 of 31 in the first half, while Villanova was 9 of 28.
Wright wasn’t fazed by any of those stats.
“We were playing really good defense and I’m encouraged to see that,” he said. “I thought that was our best defensive game this year.”