#8 Villanova 81 Rutgers 65 – College Basketball – A View From Papazian’s Perch

Villanova Senior Guard Corey Stokes scored a game-high 23 points leading the #8 Wildcats earned an 81 – 65 win over Rutgers in the Big East opener for both teams at the Pavilion.  Stokes posted 21 of his 23 points in the second half as he connected on four 3-Point shots and made 7 of 9 free throws.  Stokes credited the efforts of his teammates which allowed him to have a big second half.

“Rutgers did a great job of denying me the ball,” Stokes said.  “In the second half our guys set good screens and did a good job of getting me open shots, and I knocked them down.”

“He is really a smart player,” Villanova Coach Jay Wright said about Stokes.  “He finds good shots.  We knew at halftime if Corey Stokes had only 2 points, we were in trouble.  In the second half we ran him off screens, and Fish (Guard Corey Fischer) and Maalik (Guard Maalik Wayns) find him in transition.”

Villanova trailed at halftime 37 – 33, and started their comeback in the second half with Stokes making a layup and one from beyond the arc around a three by Senior Guard Corey Fischer to give the Wildcats a 41 – 37 lead 1:37 into the  half.  Rutgers stayed in contention getting to within 53 – 50 with 9:55 remaining in the half on two free throws by Forward Jonathan Mitchell.  Mitchell scored a game-high 17 for the Scarlet Knights.  Villanova turned up the defense.  Over the next five minutes Rutgers committed 4 turnovers and missed five shots as Villanova went on a 14 – 4 run taking a 67 – 54 lead with 4:57 on the clock.  Stokes had 6 points in the run and Sophomore Forward Mouphtaou Yarou had 4 points.

The Villanova defense forced 14 Rutgers turnovers that led to a 22 – 14 Points Off Turnovers advantage.  Villanova out-rebounded Rutgers 40 – 21, 17 – 7 on the offensive glass.  Rutgers made 20 of 48 field goal attempts for 41.7%, and made just 3 of 13 shots from beyond the arc.  Villanova was 23 – 53 for 43.4%.  The Wildcats made 8 of 15 three-pointers with Stokes making 4 of 7.

“We got stops and that was the key, and we rebounded the ball well in the second half,” said Wright.

Fischer scored 19 points for Villanova and dished out 6 assists.  Sophomore Guard Maalik Wayns scored 9 points, and had 9 assists and a career-high 8 rebounds.

“The rebounds were big,” said Wright.  “When we can put pressure on the guards and rebound, that had a big deal to do with the differential.”

Villanova improves to 12 – 1 on the season, and is 1 – 0 in conference play.  This was not a work of art, but it is a home win in the league.

“Welcome to the Big East,” said Wright.  “Not a pretty one, but that’s the way it’s going to be in this league.”


Key Run of the Game

Villanova led 53 – 50 with 9:55 remaining in the game as Rutgers Forward Jonathan Mitchell sank two free throws.   Over the next five minutes Villanova went on a 14 – 4 run to take a 67 – 54 lead on a Corey Stokes free throw with 4:57 on the clock.  Stokes scored 6 points in the run and Yarou added 4 during that span.

Key Stat of the Game

Villanova out-scored Rutgers 22 – 14 in Points Off Turnovers.  The Wildcats forced 14 Rutgers turnovers, 8 in the second half.

Key Players in the Game

For Villanova – Corey Stokes with a game-high 23 points on 5 – 9 shooting from the floor, and 4 of 7 three-point shots.  Stokes was 9 of 10 from the free throw line.

For Rutgers – Forward Jonathan Mitchell who scored a team-high 17 points, making 8 of 10 free throws, and grabbed 5 rebounds.

Point Where the Game Was Decided

The clock showed 54.5 seconds remaining in the game when Rutgers Forward Gilvydas Biruta was called for a personal and a technical foul for swiping at a player behind him. Dominic Cheek and Stokes sank the 4 foul shots to put Villanova in front 79 – 65.
Thoughts and Musings
The Villanova guard combination  of Stokes, Fischer, and Wayns is filling the stat sheet in many ways for the team.  In this game Stokes and Fischer provided points.  The Senior guards scored half of the Villanova total.  Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek added 16 rebounds and Wayns had 9 assists.
There were a lot of fouls in this game,  28 by Rutgers and 20 by Villanova.  The teams were making foul shots, 22 – 28 for Rutgers and 27 – 35 by Villanova.  15 of the last 19 points for Villanova  over the last 5:38 came from the foul line.  It felt like a struggle to the finish, and the fouls had a lot to do with that.  The players ans coaches knew it would be a grind, and it was.  That is the way it will be in the Big East.
The stat sheet showed that Villanova had  17 assists on 23 field goals.  That is efficiency on offense.  In the second half Villanova got defensive stops and got out in transition which allowed for assists.
“We’re a good passing team,” Wright said.  “The way teams play us does not give a good opportunity to get assists.  They deny Fischer and Stokes and that gives other players one-on-one situations, so you  don’t get a lot of assist opportunities.”
Former Duquesne and Boston Celtics head coach John Carroll was in attendance at the game to see his son Austin in action.
Written By:  Glenn Papazian







  1. That’s what I have been talking about…Nova needs Stokes to step up on a consistent basis like against the Scarlet Knights! He is the key between a nice season vs. a special one!

    • Stokes is becomming a big-time player for Villanova. He scores, he rebounds, he defends. He was a major player in the Temple win. The contributions of Stokes is helping Fischer and Wayns. His play is giving Jay Wright more options in his combinations on the floor, and style of play.

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