PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Maybe Scottie Reynolds shouldn't start every game.
The star Villanova guard, along with fellow guard Corey Fisher, was benched to start the game in what later was described as a "teaching lesson" by coach Jay Wright.
It didn't matter the reason. It seemed to work, shaking Reynolds from some recent doldrums. He eventually peeled off his sweats and overcame a slow start to finish with a team-high 20 points as No. 2 seed Villanova survived No. 15 seed Robert Morris in overtime, 73-70.
"We won't share that," Reynolds said when asked what he did to warrant not starting the game. "It's nothing major, but it is in this program. I have to be sharp at all times."
Time and again on this afternoon, Reynolds wasn't sharp from the field. In the first half, he went 0-for-5 from the field, missing all four attempts from 3-point range. Reynolds also had two turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, but he did hit four free throws as Villanova trailed, 28-22, at halftime.
Reynolds hit just 2-of-15 shots and was just 1-for-8 from 3-point range. Perhaps his biggest miss came at the end of regulation, when he botched a potential game-winning layup in the waning seconds. But Reynolds kept driving to the hoop and drawing fouls in the overtime session.
He finished 15-for-16 from the free-throw line. Fittingly, Reynolds clinched the game from the foul line with 9.1 seconds left to push Villanova from a 71-70 lead to a 73-70 edge.
Villanova finished 31-of-40 from the free-throw line, which helped the Wildcats overcome their 18-of-51 shooting (35 percent) and 16 turnovers. Villanova also was outrebounded, 35-29, in a game that featured four ties and four lead changes.
"(Free-throw shooting) is something we work hard on, take pride in," Wright said. "Our guys always get to the arena two hours before and they shoot extra. And Scottie has been a clutch one."
Villanova guard Reggie Redding concurred.
"He played like a team captain should play, like your best player should play," he said. "He hit some big-time shots and made plays and got fouls. … He has been doing it his whole career."
But he hasn't been doing much of it lately.
|Villanova came oh-so-close to becoming the fifth No. 2 seed to lose to a No. 15 seed. Here is a look at the four No. 2 seeds that were dumped by No. 15 seeds.|
|• 2001, Hampton topped Iowa State, 58-57 |
• 1997, Coppin State beat South Carolina, 78-65
• 1993, Santa Clara defeated Arizona, 64-61
• 1991, Richmond toppled Syracuse, 73-69
In the four games prior to the NCAA tournament, Reynolds shot 39 percent from the field (18-for-46) and failed to get to the free-throw line in two of the games. As Reynolds waned down the stretch, so did Villanova - which limped into the Big Dance having lost six of its last seven games.
Was this team really a No. 2 seed?
Villanova almost joined Syracuse, Arizona, South Carolina and Iowa State in a dubious fraternity: No. 2 seeds that lost to 15th-seeded opponents.
"We didn't play our best today," Reynolds said. "But we played with a lot of intensity.
"We have another day to play and be together and go for our goal."