College basketball: Villanova pulls away for victory
SOUTH BEND, Ind. ó No. 11 Villanova went from its worst game handling the ball to its best, then used its defense to shut down Notre Dame to turn a close game into a blowout.
With the Fighting Irish up by four points, the Wildcats took control with runs of 10-2 and 16-1 in the second half to win 77-60 on Monday night and keep alive their hopes of getting a double bye in the first round of the Big East tournament.
“That was the best defensive game we played all year,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
The Wildcats held Notre Dame to 36-percent shooting in the second half, holding the Irish without a field goal for nearly seven minutes. The Wildcats also turned the ball over a season-low five times after having a season-high 20 turnovers in a loss to Georgetown on Saturday.
Wright credited the heart of his seniors.
“We have a clunker like Saturday, but they never quit. They always come back,” Wright said. “This group has always been like this.”
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said the Wildcats were simply too quick.
“Their speed was difficult for us to guard when they made their run in the second half,” he said.
Scottie Reynolds scored 23 points, while Dante Cunningham added 18 and eight rebounds to lead the Wildcats (24-6, 12-5). Shane Clark added 13 points.
Wright said it was Reynolds’ best game as a point guard this season.
“I didn’t see his stats; I don’t have to,” Wright said. “He just controlled the game.”
Reynolds made all four 3-pointers he took in the second half and finished 6 of 7 from long range.
Ryan Ayers led the Irish with 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including a 7-of-10 effort from 3-point range. Luke Harangody added 18 points and seven rebounds.
The loss ensures the Irish (16-13, 7-10) will finish with a losing league record.
The Citadel 74, G. Southern 53
STATESBORO, Ga. ó Demetrius Nelson notched a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds to lead The Citadel.
The win clinched the second seed for the Bulldogs (20-11, 15-5 SoCon), meaning they will have a first-round bye. Georgia Southern, seeded fifth in the conference tournament, plays Appalachian State on Friday.
Wofford 80, Furman 55
SPARTANBURG, S.C. ó Junior Salters scored 18 points for Wofford (6-13, 12-8).
Sav. State 69, N.C. Central 64
SAVANNAH, Ga. ó Jamar Briscoe paced N.C. Central (3-27) with 18 points, and Nick Chasten added 15.
B-Cook 64, Winston-Salem 49
WINSTON-SALEM ó C.J. Reed scored 21 points to lead Bethune-Cookman, and Brain Fisher had 21 points for the Rams (8-20).