WASHINGTON (AP)—Given the opportunity to fire at will from long range, No. 3 Villanova didn’t stop shooting from 3-point range until a gratifying victory over Maryland was finally secured.
Scottie Reynolds scored 25 points, Corey Fisher added 20, and the Wildcats dominated the Terrapins inside and out Sunday night in a 95-86 win in the BB&T Classic.
The Wildcats (8-0) set a school record by attempting 39 shots from behind the arc, making 16—one short of the school mark. Corey Stokes led the way, going 5 for 11 from 3-point range as part of an 18-point performance.
“We give our guys a lot of freedom shooting the ball,” coach Jay Wright said.
Villanova’s first three baskets were 3-pointers. Fisher sank the Wildcats’ seventh 3 midway through the first half, making it 27-13. By halftime, Villanova was 11 for 22 from 3-point range and up 49-38.
“We lived with the 3s the first half,” Wright said.
Asked if he was surprised at the Wildcats’ shooting from afar, Maryland coach Gary Williams replied, “No, they were averaging over 20 a game. They just decided to take them all in the first half. It’s one of those things that if you’re making them, keep taking them.”
Villanova cooled off in the second half, going 5 for 17 from long range, but several of those 3s came at a very opportune time, most notably a strike from Fisher after the Terrapins closed to 61-58 with 13:34 remaining.
The Wildcats also ruled the boards, finishing with a 45-33 rebounding advantage.
Sean Mosley scored a career-high 26 points for Maryland (5-3) on 11-of-14 shooting, freshman Jordan Williams had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Eric Hayes scored 20, aided by a career-high five 3-pointers.
But the Terrapins’ defense in the opening 20 minutes proved to be their undoing.
“In the first half they shot 50 percent from the 3-point line. That’s 33 of the 49 points they scored,” Gary Williams noted. “You can’t live with 50 percent when they take that many. We were a little slow to react; second half we reacted like we had to and made a nice run.”
After falling behind by 16 points in the opening minute of the second half, Maryland used a 10-2 spurt to get within striking distance. Villanova forward Taylor King stalled the charge with a 3-pointer, but Mosley connected from long range and added a jumper to make it 61-55.
Hayes then drilled a 3 to make it 61-58, and the Wildcats took a timeout in an effort to cool the sizzling Terrapins, who began the second half by making eight of their first 13 shots. The ploy worked: Maryland missed its next four shots, and Fisher’s long-range jumper ignited an 8-0 run that put the Wildcats up 69-58.
“We knew they were going to make a run,” Fisher said. “We just had to take our time on offense and get stops on defense. That’s what we did, play by play, and we made a big run.”
Maryland would get no closer than six points the rest of the way.
The Terrapins had 19 turnovers and took 22 fewer shots than Villanova, so it didn’t matter much that Maryland shot 53 percent for the game.
“Those offensive rebounds were big,” said Wright, referring to the 23 grabbed by Villanova.
The Wildcats went 11 of 22 from 3-point range in the first half and got 15 points from Reynolds in taking a 49-38 lead. Villanova took 41 shots compared to only 25 for Maryland, thanks heavily to a 22-15 rebounding advantage that included 12 on the offensive end.
Mosley opened the game with a 3-pointer, giving the Terrapins their only lead. The Wildcats answered with three straight baskets from behind the arc, and minutes later their seventh 3 made it 27-13.
After Maryland closed to 37-29, Stokes drilled a 3-pointer to bring the margin back to double figures.