Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Nova Knocks Out Fighting Irish
Final Score: Villanova 77, Notre Dame 60
Player of the Game: Scottie Reynolds - 23 pts, 6 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl
Recap: In my game preview I said Villanova should focus on Kyle McAlarney because Luke Harangody would get his no matter what. Villanova followed that gameplan to perfection, holding McAlarney to 5 points on 2-7 shooting. That left Ryan Ayers open a little too often, as he dropped 25 points on 7-10 from three. Predictably, Harangody got his 18 points and 7 rebounds, but by shutting down McAlarney and knocking down some shots on the other end, Nova was able to run away with the victory.
Scottie Reynolds had a vintage performance. He got hot from behind the arc early and kept it going throughout the game (6-7 3pt) to finish with 23 points. He also did a good job running the show, dishing out 5 assists and committing only 1 turnover. The team as a whole only had 5 turnovers, compared to the 20 they had versus Georgetown.
Luke Harangody got his points and rebounds, but Jay Wright did an excellent job at exploiting his defensive deficiencies. Jay had his forwards attack Gody in the post, and it usually resulted in easy buckets because Notre Dame's big man was afraid of picking up fouls. The beneficiaries of this strategy were Dante Cunningham (18 points, 8 rebounds), Shane Clark (13 points), and Antonio Pena (6 points).
Reggie Redding and Dwayne Anderson spent much of the night guarding McAlarney, so credit is due for their defensive prowess. Redding had a nice line with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Anderson took some questionable shots (2-9 fg, 0-4 3pt) to finish with just 5 points, but those points came on two emphatic dunks that sucked the life out of the crowd.
If you told me before the game that the two Coreys would combine for only 5 points, I would have thought Villanova had no chance. Both only saw limited time; Fisher because of foul trouble and Stokes because of the coach's decision. Fisher went 0-5 from the field because of some very poor shot selection. He seemed to be forcing the action too much.
This win puts Villanova in good position for a top 4 seed in the Big East Tournament. Marquette (12-4) has two tough games left (at Pitt, vs. Syracuse), while Nova (12-5) should be able to take care of Providence at the Pavilion in their regular season finale. If both teams finish 13-5, there is an elaborate tiebreaking system in place. Since Villanova and Marquette tied the head-to-head season series, they move on to their records against the top seeded team in the conference. Both are winless against UConn and Louisville, so Marquette's next game versus current #3 seed Pittsburgh carries a lot of seeding implications. If Marquette loses to Pitt and Nova beats Providence, Nova will get the 4-seed. If Marquette beats Pitt, but loses to Syracuse, things get more complicated. It will be based on Nova and Marquette's records against whoever finishes highest among Providence, Syracuse, and West Virginia.