Red-hot second half kick-starts ‘Nova past Holy Family

Kyle Scudilla

They took a while to really get going, but once Curtis Sumpter and the Villanova Wildcats opened the second half, they didn’t look back, resulting in an 82-44 victory in the team’s preseason match up against the Holy Family Tigers.

Sumpter finished 8-for-16 from the field and totaled 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the ‘Cats, who took off with a 31-5 run to start the second half. The run began when fifth-year senior Sumpter snuck into the backcourt and intercepted a pass, taking it the distance and finishing with a two-handed jam. Sumpter also connected on two 3-pointers, a long two from the top of the key and a running bank-shot during a stretch where he made all five of his shots and scored 12 points in a span of just 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

“It felt like I never left,” Sumpter said. “I had fun out there.”

Sumpter got off to a slow start in the first half, shooting just 3-11 as many of Villanova’s outside shots missed the mark to begin the game. The Wildcats missed nine of their first 10 shots.

“It was good for him to come out and miss the first few,” Coach Jay Wright said. “It was just one of those games. The team understands we’re going to keep going to him.”

The contributions of sophomore guard Dwayne Anderson lifted the ‘Cats’ offense with three 3-pointers in the first half. He had a team-high 11 points in the first half and finished with 14 for the game, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.

“He can provide that,” Wright said of Anderson’s instant offense off the bench. “He can really shoot it. He’s got great range.”

Will Sheridan joined Sumpter and Anderson as the other Wildcat in double figures with 10 points. The senior also grabbed seven boards, including three off the offensive glass.

Fellow senior Mike Nardi made three of his five 3-point attempts to finish with nine points. Nardi, while going after a loose ball in the second half, got hit in the face by an opposing player’s elbow. The cut required six stitches to close the wound.

Sophomore guard Bilal Benn finished with a team-high four assists off the bench and chipped in with five rebounds.

The second half was huge; Villanova outscored Holy Family 43-15 and led by as many as 44 points, which allowed some of Villanova’s freshmen to hit the floor. None had a more impressive performance than Casiem Drummond. Drummond used his 6-foot-10-inch, 290-pound frame to total five rebounds in just five minutes. He also added a block on a long jumper from the top of the key that elicited a substantial response from the Pavilion’s student section.

Freshman Scottie Reynolds, getting the start in the backcourt beside Nardi, looked poised while handling the ball and hit the floor hard for loose balls and rebounds.

Each of the 13 players who entered the game for the Wildcats scored.

Wright spoke highly of his roster for the upcoming season after the game, in which he praised the versatility and depth of the team.

“You have guys like Antonio Peña and Casiem Drummond who have started every game in their entire lives, coming in at the end of the game,” Wright said.

Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown was in attendance Tuesday night to witness the Wildcats’ hot second-half shooting. Brown has been helping to scout the team during practices and giving his input to the Villanova coaching staff.

Wright seemed pleased with the team’s preparation to this point, especially his young players, including five freshmen and five sophomores, saying they played with great poise despite the slow start in their first game in front of the Pavilion crowd in the ’06-’07 season.

Guard Ryan Lancaster finished with 13 points, leading Holy Family. The Tigers shot just 13 percent in second half and only 23 percent for the game. Despite the departure of standout guards Randy Foye, Allan Ray and Kyle Lowry to the NBA, the Villanova defense still pressured Holy Family well with full-court presses and traps. The Tigers turned the ball over 18 times for the game.

The increased size on the Wildcats’ roster also played its part in the defensive effort, as the team held the edge on the glass, 50-33.

Villanova opens the regular season in West Palm Beach, Fla. this Saturday against Rollie Massimino’s Northwood University Seahawks, followed by the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam.