Guard James Bell scored a career-best 24 points and forward JayVaughn Pinkston added 22 in leading the Villanova Wildcats past a few scares to survive the Lafayette Leopards 75-59 in the season opener for both teams Friday night at the Villanova Pavilion.
Guard Seth Hinrichs led Lafayette with 15 and guard Joey Ptasinski added 13.
With 9:20 left to play, Hinrichs' 3-point shot tied the game at 47-47. But Villanova, behind strong rebounding, went on a 28-12 run to end the game. Bell's 3-pointer with 7:33 gave Villanova the lead for good, 50-47.
Lafayette held a 38-32 lead with 16:33 left to play, on guard Zach Rufer's 3-point shot.
Villanova led 29-27 at halftime. Lafayette's first lead came on guard Alan Flannigan's layup with 6:43 left in the half. That was the Leopards' one lead in the first 20 minutes, but they did tie the larger Wildcats three times -- 22-22, 25-25 and 27-27. Lafayette had outrebounded Villanova by seven at the half.
Lafayette freshman guard Nick Lindner played exceptionally well against Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who didn't score until there was 1:49 left to play.