Villanova Wins at Notre Dame, 77-60, in Big East Men's Basketball
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Villanova used its defense to shut down Notre Dame and turn a close game into a 77-60 blowout last night in South Bend, Ind.
With the Fighting Irish up by four points, the No. 11 Wildcats took control with runs of 10-2 and 16-1 in the second half to 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, keeping the Irish without a field goal for nearly seven minutes. The Wildcats also turned the ball over a season-low five times after a season-high 20 turnovers in Saturday's loss to Georgetown.
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 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 and Dante Cunningham added 18 points and eight rebounds to lead the Wildcats (24-6, 12-5).
Wright said it was Reynolds's 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 three-pointers he took in the second half, finishing 6 for 7.
"I told Coach Wright in the first half, they were backing off and every time, I could come down and shoot the three, but I wanted to get the ball moving and make them play defense," he said. "In the second half, I just hit one and it came and came. It was just in the flow of the game."
Ryan Ayers led the Irish with 25 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including 7 for 10 from three-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 and likely will need to win the Big East tournament to earn a third straight NCAA tournament berth. But Brey didn't want to talk about that.
"There is a postseason for this basketball team," Brey said. "We'll see what it is."
-- NORFOLK STATE 85, HOWARD 71: Michael Deloach scored 25 points to lead the host Spartans past the Bison.
Deloach led four scorers in double figures for Norfolk State (10-17, 8-7 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference).
Eugene Myatt paced Howard (8-21, 5-10) with 20 points and Kyle Riley added 19.