‘Nova rings Eagles’ Bell



Cailin Brophy

The chants of “We want UConn” from the ’Nova student section at the end of the game tell the story. It’s the story of a team which is gaining some serious confidence that is starting to pay some hefty dividends.

The Wildcats earned their fifth-straight Big East win Wednesday night, defeating Boston College 94-83, at the Pavilion to remain undefeated in the Big East while improving their overall record to 12-5 on the season.

“The players are starting to feel more comfortable on the floor,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “They’re playing together and executing better, and our defense has been creating easy baskets for us.”

The Wildcats were able to weather a 31-point Troy Bell storm with an offensive umbrella of their own, with five players scoring in double figures. Senior marksman Gary Buchanan led the way for the ’Cats, making good on eight of 15 shots from the floor, five of which were from behind the arc, to go along with a perfect six-for-six record from the free throw line. He finished the evening with 27 points, matching his output from Saturday’s drubbing of Rutgers. Freshman Allan Ray came off the bench to score 18 points along with five boards and five assists, while his classmate Jason Fraser was a monster in the paint once again, hustling to loose balls and second shot opportunities en route to 13 points and six rebounds.

The Wildcats were able to capitalize on the Eagles’ foul woes, hitting 33 of 40 free throws. Four ’Nova players were flawless from the line, with forward Ricky Wright making good on all eight attempts. Also encouraging for ’Nova was a victory in the turnover battle, recording 17 to the 19 by Boston College.

The ’Cats fed off a riotous home crowd from the get-go, opening up the contest with a 22-6 lead with over 11 minutes still remaining in the opening stanza. However, Bell got his squad going late in the first half, putting up seven points in a 14-1 run that cut ’Nova’s lead to two.

The Wildcats got back to business immediately in the second half, on a three from Buchanan in the opening possession. Bell and the Eagles kept hovering around, however, again cutting the lead down to two after a Craig Smith bucket made it 48-46 with under 16 minutes remaining. But this time it was ’Nova that benefitted from the battle of Buchanan and Bell, as the Wildcat sharpshooter led his team on a 14-2 run to reclaim the momentum.

“Division I basketball is competitive and the people with the most heart go at it,” Fraser said of the matchup between the two guards.

In the end, a 23-12 bench scoring advantage and 20 more points off free throws were too much for Boston College to overcome.

The Eagles fell to 807 overall with a 1-3 mark in the Big East.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, join Pittsburgh as the only undefeated team remaining in the 14-team conference, heading into what will be a tough matchup with the beast of the East division, UConn, Saturday.

Despite their flurry of success, however, the ’Cats know the Huskies will put up a strong fight.

“We’re approaching [UConn] the same wazy we approach everty game,” Buchanan said. “We just have to try and outplay every team we face.”

However, the senior leader does acknowledge what is swiftly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Big East.

“This team is really unbelivable, and I think the way we’re playing right now we have a great chance of making the [NCAA] tourney,” Buchanan said. He adds, “We just have to go and play our heart out.”

See the ’Cats ‘play their heart out’ next Saturday against West Virginia.