Cats Top Friars for Byes in Big East
Friday, March 6, 2009
Scottie Reynolds scored 23 points to help No. 11 Villanova finish a perfect season at its on-campus arena and earn a double bye in the Big East tournament with a 97-80 victory over Providence last night.
Reynolds hit three clutch three-pointers in the second half that stretched the lead into double digits for the Wildcats (25-6, 13-5) and pushed back a Providence team that badly needed this win to strengthen its NCAA tournament chances.
The Wildcats will get two extra days' rest, not opening play in the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden until Thursday.
The Wildcats tied a program record with 25 regular season victories. They haven't lost consecutive games all season.
"It's not the record, it's how they did it," Wright said. "It's keeping that concentration level."
Weyinmi Efejuku was sensational in stretches for the Friars (18-12, 10-8), finishing with 29 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He scored 12 straight points for them in the second half and kept the upset bid alive.
Instead, the Wildcats pulled away late to win their 28th straight game at the Pavilion.
The loss doesn't necessarily cripple Providence's at-large chances, but it will need to win at least a game or two in New York to feel good about getting picked for the field of 65.
-- PENN STATE 64, ILLINOIS 63: Talor Battle hit a driving shot with three-tenths of a second left to cap the host Nittany Lions' rally from a 10-point deficit against the No. 23 Illini.
Mike Davis, a 70 percent free throw shooter for Illinois, missed the front end of a one-and-one with eight seconds left. Jamelle Cornley corralled the rebound and handed off to Battle, who dribbled furiously up court and threw up the shot that bounced tantalizingly around the rim for a couple of seconds before dropping in.
Fans rushed the court after the final buzzer as the Nittany Lions (21-9, 10-7 Big Ten) secured a victory that will help their NCAA tournament credentials.