Jan. 27, 2010
PHILADELPHIA (AP)–Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher each scored 17 points to help No. 3 Villanova get off to the best start in history–a season after advancing to the Final Four–with a 90-72 win over Notre Dame on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats are 19-1 for the first time and are the only Big East team unbeaten in conference play (8-0). Reaching the program’s first Final Four in 24 years was only a start for coach Jay Wright’s program.
Led by Reynolds, Fisher, Antonio Pena and Co., Villanova has won 10 straight games and is in the mix for the top spot next week in The AP poll.
Reynolds and Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody were each expected to state their cases for Big East player of the year. Harangody delivered on his end for the Irish (15-6, 4-4) with 21 points and nine rebounds in 37 minutes. Harangody played hard until the end and kept alive Notre Dame’s early bid for its first win over a top-10 team on the road since 2001.
Reynolds’ final numbers weren’t overly impressive until a big spurt at the end. He scored nine straight points during Villanova’s 11-0 run over the final 4 minutes that put this one away.
Reynolds, whose end-to-end layup dash sent the Wildcats to the Final Four, hustled all over the court, including a sensational steal-turned-heave as he fell out of bounds that Maalik Wayns finished on the other end with a layup.
Reynolds’ first 3 of the game put the Wildcats up 84-67, then he swiped the ball away from the Irish and accelerated uncontested to the other end for a fastbreak layup that gave the Wildcats the push they needed to go ahead by 20-plus.
Reynolds heard his name chanted by the appreciative fans out at the Wachovia Center as he put the finishing touches on the rout.
For 30 minutes, this was a shot-for-shot game that kept the Irish within single digits. Tim Abromaitis scored 16 points for Notre Dame. The Irish coughed up valuable points with a 19 for 30 night from the free-throw line.
None of the final individual scoring numbers were dazzling for the Wildcats, but their talented depth continues to wear down even the best of teams. Wayns and Taylor King each played at least 20 minutes off the bench. King’s 3-pointer with 9 minutes left gave Villanova its first double-digit lead, 66-56.
Pena was Villanova’s inside presence, scoring five tough buckets under the basket to finish with 14 points and 10 rebounds. For years under Wright, the Wildcats have made their NCAA tournament runs with their guard play. Pena gives them a 6-foot-8 presence who can score from the post and is a nifty passer that eases the pressure off the guards.