The Wildcats returned home, to their real home – the Pavilion. After a sloppy win against Lehigh, they left the unpolished play behind in Allentown. This time around, the Wildcats looked well-versed in their plays and schemes. They sported a completely different demeanor than what they had on Friday night. Villanova put on a wonderful display, winning 81-44.
The game began on an ominous note for Maryland Eastern Shore. They won the tip-off, but Mike Myers landed awkwardly onto the floor. Play was suspended for a few moments, until the senior forward was able to walk it off. After a missed shot by the Hawks, JayVaughn Pinkston corralled the rebound and sent a nice outlet pass to Daniel Ochefu, who got things started with a vicious dunk to get the crowd rocking. Instead of slowing down like they did against Lehigh, they turned the intensity up instead. They raced out to a quick 13-2 lead, topped off with back-to-back threes by Dylan Ennis and Ryan Arcidiacono. Maryland Eastern Shore could just simply not keep up, they watched their deficit grow before their own very eyes. The Wildcats pushed their lead into the double digits, then it started to grow into the 20s. There was a scary moment midway through the first half in which Darryl Reynolds went down hard. The referees quickly defused the situation, although it didn’t seem like it was going to worsen. Play stopped as the referees convened and ruled a technical foul on the Hawks’ Myers.
The rest of the half was highlighted by highflying dunks, solid defense and beautiful ball movement for Villanova. The ball moved smoothly and without a hitch. They did an excellent job of finding the open man to provide good shot opportunities. The Wildcats also kept great care of the ball, only turning it over twice in the first half. The same couldn’t be said for their opponents. Villanova’s press was effective once again, the suffocating defense resulted in 13 turnovers for Maryland Eastern Shore. A number of which were converted into energizing dunks. There were an number of good ones, but Phil Booth’s slam sounded like it won over the crowd. The freshman’s big dunk with defensive pressure around him sent the crowd into a frenzy. By the end of the first half, Villanova built their lead to eclipse the 30 point mark. Maryland Eastern Shore looked lost as the Wildcats made mincemeat of their defense, taking a 45-14 lead into the half.
The Hawks scored the first three points of the second half, but then Darrun Hilliard answered with a basket from long range. Once Hilliard made the equalizing basket, the Wildcats picked things up from where they left off. They rode the momentum of the big lead they had built for themselves in the first half. The Wildcats were even able to stretch their lead into the 40s. They continued to shoot well in the second half as they sustained their rout. Kris Jenkins flourished in the second half on both sides of the ball. He had a monstrous block that he later turned into a lay up on the other end. Jenkins finished with a team-high 15 points. “He doesn’t make the spectacular play but he makes the right play,” said Coach Jay Wright. He was able to pepper in a few long range baskets, as well as four steals on defense.
Since the Wildcats held onto such a large lead, Coach Wright sent out the Bench Mob to close the game. Henry Lowe, Patrick Farrell, and Kevin Rafferty took the floor for the final 3:40 of the game. Seconds after checking into the game, Rafferty scored his first career basket. The senior walk-on was showered with cheers as he made the basket with the shot clock expiring. A three pointer by the Hawks’ Ryan Andino provided the last few points of the game. Darryl Reynolds stole the ball and held onto it until the final buzzer went off.
Four different Wildcats scored in the double digits. Jenkins, Hilliard, Ennis, and Ochefu eclipsed the ten-point mark. Hilliard finished with 10 points, two assists, and a pair of steals. Ennis looked good on the floor with 10 points and five boards. Ochefu fell just short of a double-double. The junior center had 10 points and nine rebounds. All in all, the Wildcats’ shooting stroke was revived. They sank 56.9% of their shots, much improved from the 38% efficiency that they had just a few days ago.
For the Hawks, Devin Martin distinguished himself from the rest of his peers. Martin finished with a double-double, 17 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Myers chipped in 14 points and three rebounds. However, he struggled from the line, making only eight of his 15 free throw attempts.
The Wildcats will play the Bucknell Bison on Thursday, November 20th, at 8 p.m.