‘Nova’s present beats ‘Nova’s past in historic match-up

Kyle Scudilla

The Villanova Wildcats were beginning their ’06-’07 season while their opponents, the Northwood Seahawks, were only beginning their existence as a basketball program on Saturday night. The result was an easy 97-60 win for the ‘Cats.

It is odd that a reunion of past and present Wildcat greats would occur in West Palm Beach, Fla., over 1,100 miles from Villanova’s campus. Such was the case, however, when Coach Jay Wright’s current squad and six members of the 1985 national championship team met Coach Rollie Massimino in the game for his return to coaching after leaving Cleveland State three years ago.

The game, held in the Countess de Hoernle Student Life Center on Northwood’s campus, was a memorable event for all, and a sell-out crowd of 1,600 watched the school’s first-ever college basketball game. Despite the lopsided score, 71-year-old Massimino was animated throughout the event, hugging former Villanova players, shouting instructions to his current players and even slapping Wright, his former assistant at Villanova, on the rear.

During halftime, the members of Villanova’s 1985 championship team were introduced, and the fans in attendance sang “Happy Birthday” to Massimino, who turned 72 this past Monday.

“At least Villanova won,” he said with a chuckle, according to the Associated Press. “It was a great evening. I got a little teary-eyed only once.”

Dwayne Anderson led Villanova with 16 points, hitting 5-of-9 field goal attempts including two 3-pointers. Anderson had a team-high eight rebounds and also added four of the Wildcats’ 16 steals for the night. Curtis Sumpter, playing in his first regular season game since the end of the ’04-’05 season, joined Anderson atop the leader board with 16 points and chipped in with seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

Freshman Scottie Reynolds had an impressive debut for the Wildcats, scoring 13 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting performance from the field. He and fellow starting guard Mike Nardi led the team with four assists each. Nardi also finished with 11 points and four steals.

Forward Shane Clark tallied 10 points for Villanova, who finished with five players in double figures, 11 players registering at least three points and a 59 percent shooting performance for the game.

Freshman guard Reggie Red-

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Cunningham and Bilal Benn also contributed to the win, finishing with six points each. Cunningham grabbed five rebounds, and Benn made three steals.

Villanova opened up a wide margin almost immediately, going on a 14-2 run to begin the game and finishing the first half with a 56-29 lead. The ‘Cats’ press defense excelled, and the Seahawks committed 22 turnovers on the evening. Northwood also failed to grab half as many rebounds as Villanova did, losing the battle on the glass 42-20.

Baree Ward made history for Northwood, scoring the team’s first-ever basket and leading the team with 15 points. Teammate Marvin Owens also finished with 15 for the Seahawks.

The Seahawks are currently members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, but they hope to obtain membership in the NCAA’s Division II. Villanova’s first match-up against an NCAA opponent will come in the opening round of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam when they will take on the College of Charleston.