Cincinnati rallies for 69-66 win over Villanova

January 12, 2008 7:09:22 PM PST
Rashad Bishop's 3-pointer with 22 seconds to play - the freshman forward's only basket of the game - rallied Cincinnati to a 69-66 victory Saturday over No. 19 Villanova, which couldn't hold a lead in the final minute. Scottie Reynolds scored a season-high 32 points for Villanova (11-3, 1-2 Big East), but had a shot blocked with 27 seconds left and the Wildcats up by one. Bishop, who was 0-for-3 at that point, then sank one from the right wing.

When Villanova's Corey Fisher missed the front end of a one-and-one with 6 seconds left, Cincinnati (8-8, 3-1) got the rebound and the breakthrough win. The Bearcats, who are still digging out from the mess from Bob Huggins' ouster, have already surpassed their conference win total from last season, when they went 2-14.

Reynolds missed a 3-point attempt in traffic at the buzzer, then stuffed his jersey into his mouth in frustration.

Deonta Vaughn led Cincinnati with 25 points. John Williamson had his second double-double of the season, getting 13 points and 11 rebounds. He also made one of his two free throws with 5 seconds left for the final margin.

It was the second loss in three games for Villanova, which got outrebounded 38-28.

Reynolds, a point guard who was the Big East's rookie of the year last season, was Villanova's offense at the outset. He scored the Wildcats' first 12 points off a series of spin moves and drives to the basket.

After one swift move, Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson - sitting courtside as usual - yelled to the refs: "He's carrying the ball just like Earl Monroe," a reference to the former Baltimore Bullets guard known for his 360-degree spin move.

Vaughn did his best to keep up, scoring 13 in a back-and-forth first half that featured five lead changes and neither team ahead by more than six. The Bearcats kept it close by dominating the boards - Williamson had 10 rebounds in the first half alone, when Villanova failed to get even one offensive rebound.

The Bearcats have turned into a solid rebounding team lately. They held Syracuse without a rebound for an 8-minute span during Cincinnati's 74-66 win Wednesday night.

Reynolds and Vaughn kept up their game of "top this" at the start of the second half. Vaughn's fastbreak layup put Cincinnati up 41-40, its first lead in 11 minutes.

That was the first of seven lead changes in the half. Cincinnati pulled ahead 55-50 - its biggest lead since the opening minutes - when Vaughn stripped Fisher and drove for a layup with 7:41 left.

Reynolds responded with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws in a 7-0 run that set up the frantic finish.

Cincinnati's take-it-up-strong approach paid off in free throws. The Bearcats went 17-of-30 from the line, while Villanova was 8-of-15.