VILLANOVA, PA. 12/28/2015 – The 16th ranked Villanova Wildcats started fast in a 77 – 57 win over the University of Pennsylvania Quakers at the Pavilion. Villanova improves to 10 – 2 over the season and is 3 – 0 in Big Five play, and has 13 straight in the City Series. Jalen Bruson led the Wildcats with a career-high 22 points and handed out 5 assists.
Nova scored the first 14 points of the game with Daniel Ochefu getting 9 of those points. Penn finally got on the board at the 14:49 mark on a three-pointer by Sam Jones. It would be the last basket the Quakers would get for the next 9 minutes. The Wildcats scored 16 straight prior to a field goal by Jamal Lewis to race out to a 30 – 5 lead. The score was 39 – 11 at halftime.
“I loved the way we started defensively in the first half, ” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “Daniel (Ochefu) was the key defensively. They couldn’t get into their offense.”
The only smudge for Nova was a stretch where they missed 6 consecutive free throws.
“Villanova came out with great energy and great understanding of what it takes to win,” said Penn Coach Steve Donahue. “His team plays with great energy, poise and confidence. That is what you saw in the first half.”
For the game Villanova made just under half of their shots (25 of 51 for 49%). However, the Cats made just 1 of 11 three-point attempts, that by Brunson. A low number for a team that averages almost 10 three’s per game. However, Penn wanted to take away the shot from distance, so the Wildcats went to the basket and got foul shots making 26 of 41 from the charity stripe.
“There are certain teams in our league that play us that way,” said Wright. “This is a good challenge for us, our decision making in teams taking away threes. If you take away three’s you have to drive the ball and get to the foul line.”
Penn faced its largest halftime deficit and scored their fewest first half points this season. To their credit the Red and Blue did not give up and outscored the Blue and White in the second half 46 – 38.
“We came out very tentative,” said Penn guard Jackson Donahue, who led the way for Penn with a career-high 18 points. “We weren’t moving the ball or getting stops which gets you frustrated At halftime we focused on that we needed to change from the first half.”
“I’m proud we competed all the way through,” Coach Donahue said.
For Nova Ryan Arcidiacono scored 13 points. Ochefu registered a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, and held Penn leading scorer Darien Nelson-Henry to 9 points.
Penn (5 – 7, 1 – 2 Big Five) plays again on January 2 hosting Binghamton.
The Big East scheduled awaits Villanova as they host #6 Xavier on New Year’s Eve, then travel to face Creighton on January 2nd. They are anxious and saw this game as a good test for conference games.
“Penn is a disciplined team and play tough and hard,” Ochefu said. “They are a good non-conference team.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian
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