Final Score: Notre Dame 90, Villanova 80
Player of the Game: Kyle McAlarney, 30 pts, 5 ast
Villanova Player of the Game: Antonio Pena, 17 pts, 9 reb, 3 ast
Recap: Villanova lost its second straight and had its first home loss of the season to drop to 3-4 in the Big East and 13-5 overall. They came out with a little more energy today and once again tried to make a late-game comeback but fell short. The loss should put Villanova out of the top 25 for the first time this season. Irish guard Kyle McAlarney lit it up, making five 3-pointers en route to his 30 points. Forward Luke Harangody had a dominating presence inside with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Nova could have really used Casiem Drummond today to help contain Harangody. I was happy to see Corey Fisher back in the starting lineup and he had a decent game, scoring 13 points, but he had a few unlucky bounces off the rim to finish 5-15 from the field. However, I was unhappy that Fisher's playing time came at the expense of Malcolm Grant. Grant didn't enter the game until late in the first half for a brief period of time, then later in the second half. I don't understand why Jay Wright won't give him more playing time. I've got to think that Grant is starting to become frustrated as well for his his lack of minutes. He once again tried to lead a comeback making two 3-pointers to finish with 8 points. Looking back on the season the only game where Villanova really played good basketball for the entire game was vs. Pitt, which not coincidently was the only game where Malcolm Grant played from start to finish.
Scottie Reynolds had another poor shooting performance, going 0-5 from 3-point land and finishing with 13 points. He struggled on the other end of the floor as well, looking lost on defense at times. The team seems to live and die with Scottie Reynolds. If he's on target, the Wildcats will win; if he's not, they lose, and that's been the case all season. That's a tough burden for a sophomore to carry, which is why he needs help from his teammates, especially upperclassmen like Shane Clark. For the third straight game Shane Clark scored only two points, coming off a tip-in. He doesn't even look to shoot the ball anymore, but at least Jay cut his minutes down to 14 and gave some extra to Corey Stokes. Corey Stokes shot the ball well, going 3-6 for three and had a career high 11 points. Antonio Pena had a great game down low for the Wildcats with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but got into foul trouble, picking up his fourth early in the second half. He needs to learn how to stay aggressive but avoid fouls because his post scoring is desperately needed. Dante Cunningham fouled out with a below average 7 points and 5 rebounds. The team as a whole committed 28 personal fouls, giving up 38 free throws to Notre Dame, while Villanova only had 12 attempts. Reggie Redding had a decent game with 7 points and 6 rebounds. Dwayne Anderson had 2 points off the bench. Redshirt Freshman Andrew Ott wasn't in the building today, and word is that he plans to transfer.
This is a very young Villanova team, and growing pains such as this should be expected. There are plenty of Big East games remaining with opportunities to beat marquee opponents such as Pitt, Louisville, Marqutte, and Georgetown. These were two tough back-to-back losses, but not all hope is lost for an NCAA bid. Fans should keep in mind how young this team is and remember how Allan Ray, Randy Foye, and Curtis Sumpter struggled in their first two seasons.
Next Game: Wed. Jan. 30, 7:00 PM at Pitt