Wednesday, December 03, 2014

10th-ranked Villanova takes care of La Salle

Philadelphia, PA -- Darrun Hilliard and Dylan Ennis each contributed 15 points as No. 10 Villanova remained unbeaten thanks to a 84-70 decision over rival La Salle in the Big 5 opener for both schools and the second of two City Series contests on Wednesday from Gola Arena.

Josh Hart and JayVaughn Pinkston poured in 12 points apiece, with Daniel Ochefu adding 10 and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (7-0), who next face Saint Joseph's on Saturday afternoon in the 2014 edition of the Holy War between the Catholic institutions.

That's a good road win for us," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "We watched film of La Salle and knew that they were just not going to go away. They've got really good chemistry and (coach) John (Gianinni) is not going to let them quit. They're tough. To come in here and win a Big Five game against a team that I think is going to be very good is good for us."

Jerell Wright totaled a game-best 19 points for the Explorers (4-3), who take on Temple three days from now. Khalid Lewis picked up 17 points and Jordan Price had 10 in a losing cause.

Villanova led 4-0 early on but La Salle countered to go up 9-8 on a triple from Cleon Roberts.

Pinkston hit a bucket a short time later to fuel a 16-5 surge which sent the Wildcats on top 24-14 with 8:24 left in the half on back-to-back shots from Hart.

A Lewis shot closed the gap to 24-18, but Kris Jenkins drained a trey and Pinkston converted a three-point play and 'Nova was up 30-18, then the visitors' lead enlarged to 35-20 on a jumper from Ochefu with 4:30 remaining.

A triple from Hillard boosted Villanova's margin to 18, at 45-27, with just over a minute to play before intermission and that spread stood at the break after Pinkston converted a jumper to make it 47-29.

Price scored four straight and Wright added a layup to shrink La Salle's deficit to 51-40 less than five minutes into the second half.

However, Ennis hit from long distance on the next possession and within a span of four minutes a Ryan Arcidiacono basket boosted the 'Nova lead to 63-44.

"They did a really good job of taking away our threes, especially early," explained Wright. "It gave us driving lanes. These two (Hilliard and Ennis) really took advantage of that. I thought these guys recognized that really well. I thought that was a key. Usually that's tough to decipher -- that I can get to the rim on the first play without making a pass. These two did a great job of that."

Pinkston hit two from the line with 6:09 remaining and the Wildcats led by 20 for the first time, 74-54, before La Salle's last run -- an 11-2 burst capped by two Wright free throws -- pulled it to 80-70 with  2:10 to play.

The Explorers missed their final three shots while Ochefu and Pinkston hit easy buckets to close out the contest.

Notes: Villanova has won 12 of the last 13 meetings since December of 2002. La Salle's last win against 'Nova was 77-74 (OT) on Nov. 25, 2012 at the Pavilion ... The Explorers have dropped three in a row since opening the year with four wins ... The Wildcats scored 21 points off 13 La Salle turnovers ... Ennis led all players with nine assists.

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