Wildcats trample Hokies

James Evans

Villanova (14-10 overall, 6-5 Big East) came through with a much needed win last Wednesday night over the Hokies of Virginia Tech (10-12, 3-8), 80-68. The victory ended the ‘Cats mini two-game losing streak and moved ‘Nova back to the upper echelon of the Big East.

“That was good win for us,” head coach Jay Wright said. “We just needed to get back on the winning side. I think these young guys needed to feel good, because they have been playing tentative of late.”

Allan Ray had a huge game for the ‘Cats pouring in 29 points to led the team in scoring. Ray scored 18 of his points in the first half as he helped ‘Nova go into half up 46-36. He also grabbed five boards and four assists.

With the score, 25-18, the game got away from the Hokies when Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg was chewing on the refs ear too much and got hit with a technical foul. Mike Nardi promptly went to the line and hit one out of two. Then Tech’s star Bryant Matthews received a technical foul when he tossed Nardi to floor, after he was called for a foul. Nardi once again hit one out of two. The technical foul came during an 8-0 run by the ‘Cats that pushed the lead to 31-18 and the Hokies were no closer then four for the rest of the game.

Matthews, Virginia Tech’s star, entered the game averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds per game. However, ‘Nova’s Curtis Sumpter shut him down, as he scored only four in the first half and the rest of 16 points came under the nine minute mark of the second half.

“Curtis Sumpter did a great job [on Matthews],” Wright said. “I think it affected him [Curtis] offensively in the first half, but in the second half Curtis got it going. It was outstanding job by Curtis; we really need him to be that guy, because he can guard a perimeter player and a post player.

Sumpter, while containing Matthews, was still able to contribute with 11 points and led the ‘Cats in rebounds with nine.

However, it was the guard show tonight, as along with Ray, Randy Foye and Mike Nardi were offensive threats for the ‘Nova. Foye scored 16 points, while hitting seven out of eight shots, including two out of three from three point line and hitting his first five shots of the game.

Nardi struggled from the three-point line missing all four of his shots, but more then made up for it by scoring 12, and hitting eight of his 11 free throw attempts.

“We have to have them [trio of guards] involved in our offense making plays,” Wright said. “They’re all trying to do everything perfectly instead of just playing and that is just youth. We believe in them and were going to stick with them, they’re working hard and we’re going to stay the course and keep working to get better.”

The Wildcats once again struggled in the turnover column, giving the ball away 24 times Wednesday. A stat that you think would hurt this team, except the staggering fact is that ‘Nova is 5-2 when they commit 20 or more turnovers in a game.

“I cannot explain it [turnovers]. I know our guys are always trying to make the perfect play and they’re young and by trying to make the perfect play we don’t make the right play the simple play,” Wright said. “I know it’s all with good intentions, it is never selfishness. No one is ever trying to make a fancy pass. We have to get them playing with confidence and put them in positions where they can play to there strengths.”

With just five games left on the schedule and with a record of 14-10 and playing in one of the tougher conferences in the nation, the idea of a tournament is not too far fetched if this team can put a winning streak together and tonight was a good way to start.

“We were on a two game losing streak, but the win helps us get our confidence back up and we have to go on a big run to end the season,” Ray said. “We got Pitt, UConn, Syracuse and Seton Hall coming up, who are all pretty much locks for the tournament, and if we could get big wins against them it might help out our chances.”

‘Nova will look to improve their tourney chances this weekend at Seton Hall.