No. 15 Villanova beats La Salle 70-59

December 14, 2008 7:06:28 PM PST
Corey Stokes scored 18 points and Scottie Reynolds had 13 to lead No. 15 Villanova to a 70-59 victory over La Salle on Sunday night. The Wildcats (10-1) won their second straight game against a Philadelphia city school and seem to have another local Big 5 championship wrapped up. Stokes and Reynolds went a combined 7-for-12 from 3-point range.

The Wildcats led by 10 points at halftime without much production from leading scorer Dante Cunningham. Cunningham averages 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds, but was held scoreless in the first half and grabbed only one rebound in 7 minutes. He scored nine points in the second half to help Villanova win for the 17th time in its last 18 city series games.

Rodney Green and Kimmani Barrett each scored 16 points for the Explorers (4-4), who had a three-game winning streak snapped.

The Wildcats were slow to get rolling, perhaps feeling a bit drained after a nine-point loss to No. 6 Texas then coming back two days later to beat Saint Joseph's in a tight and emotionally charged game. The Explorers, who haven't beat Villanova since 2001, made their shots early and kept close with their ranked rivals.

Two huge swats from 6-foot-9 La Salle forward Vernon Goodridge knocked away two of Reynolds' shots and sent the guard flying along with the ball. The blocks and the 18-all score had the rare sellout crowd at Tom Gola Arena going wild, as about 4,000 fans came hopeful of an upset.

La Salle's good feelings didn't last long.

Stokes nailed three 3-pointers and Reynolds hit one during an 18-1 run. With Cunningham on the bench with two fouls, the long-distance shooting was exactly what Villanova needed to push back pesky La Salle.

Reynolds hit consecutive 3s early in the second half for a 14-point lead and Reggie Redding hit his only 3 of the game to make it 58-39.

Coach John Giannini's Explorers gave Connecticut fits in an eight-point loss last month and gamely tried to rally against another Big East power.

Barrett's 3-pointer with 4:34 left sliced it to 62-51, but the rally flickered out. La Salle committed 15 turnovers to only eight for Villanova and shot 38 percent from the floor.

With Reynolds and Stokes leading the way, the Wildcats shot 50 percent from 3-point range.


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