Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saints go marching out: 'Nova stomps Siena's cinderella story

By John McMullen

(The Phanatic Magazine) - Scottie Reynolds scored 25 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out five assists as Villanova stopped Siena, 84-72, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Corey Stokes added 20 points for the Wildcats (22-12), who upended Clemson, 75-69, in the first round on Friday and will now travel to Detroit's Ford Field to take on Kansas in a Midwest Regional semifinal.

"I just go out every game and play hard," Stokes said. "Me and my teammates, we get better each game. We just stay focused mentally, and we just go out and just play hard."

Dante Cunningham chipped in with 14 points and six boards for 12th-seeded Villanova, which reached the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years under head coach Jay Wright.

"I'm just thrilled. Thrilled to be here," Wright said. "I want to say I think Siena is very smart about the way they play. If that team gets a lead on with their guards and the way they can handle the ball and pass it, you're in big trouble. That's where I think our leadership of our junior class came in and Scottie. Once you get that lead, it's so hard to keep playing every possession and not take a break."

Alex Franklin finished with 18 points for the 13th-seeded Saints (23-11), who were coming off the tournament's biggest upset when they knocked off fourth- seeded Vanderbilt, 83-62, in convincing fashion. The 21-point margin of victory marked the second-largest ever by a No. 13 seed in this event.

"I just want to begin by congratulating Coach Wright on a tremendous accomplishment," Siena coach Fran McCaffery said. "He's done a phenomenal job with his team this year, and I certainly wish he and his team the best as they move into Detroit. This game for us was a struggle at the start. We got down early. I think the mistake we made was we tried to quit shooting the ball a little bit. But I thought we really battled."

Kenny Hasbrouck netted 17 points, while Edwin Ubiles had 12 points and 12 boards for Siena.

Villanova took control from the opening tip. Reynolds stroked a three to open the scoring and Stokes followed with a fastbreak layup.

A few minutes later, Stokes nailed a three to give the Wildcats their first 10-point cushion, 15-5, with 14:22 remaining in the opening frame.

Stokes stayed hot from there and buried a jumper with just under 12 minutes left to give Villanova its largest lead in the frame, 21-7.

The Saints finally settled down a bit from there but still trailed by 10, 42-32, heading to the locker room.

The Wildcats never let Siena off the deck in the final frame. Reynolds started things again by draining a three and 'Nova then took a more than comfortable 53-37 advantage when Cunningham deposited a layup with 16:25 left in the contest.

The Saints tried to make one last push and got within nine points, 67-58, after Franklin deposited a layup with 6:28 on the clock.

Reynolds missed a jumper at the other end and Hasbrouck pulled down the rebound but quickly turned it over, enabling Reynolds to swoop in for an easy layup.

Cunningham followed with another Wildcats layup and, after a Chris De La Rosa bucket for Siena, Dwayne Anderson hit a jumper before scoring on another lay- in to give Villanova an insurmountable 75-60 lead with 4:21 left.

"Coach always said from the beginning, you know, we want to be the best team at the end of the season," Reynolds said. "You know, we went through some ups and downs during the season, but we always stayed consistent about what we were trying to accomplish. Right now the last two or three weeks we've been playing our best basketball and we stuck together."

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