Villanova beats South Florida

March 5, 2008 8:19:36 PM PST
Shane Clark is getting his energy back at just the right time of the season for Villanova. The 6-foot-7 junior forward had 15 points and seven rebounds in a strong 22 minutes Wednesday night to lead Villanova to a 72-59 victory over South Florida.

Clark, who missed three games because of a perplexing lack ofgame losing streak. They won for the 15th straight time at The Pavilion, a mark that spans two seasons.

"It's just amazing," Villanova coach Jay Wright said of Clark. "It looks like he got it back tonight. That was nice to see.

"He has battled through this - whatever it is, this energy thing. He eats everything he can and he had the energy tonight."

Clark said he has felt better in other games, but was glad to be back on the court, especially with one regular-season game remaining before the Big East tournament.

"I was just trying to be aggressive," said Clark, who entered averaging 6.9 points and 4.2 rebounds. "I really want to come back and do the dirty work - whatever this team needs."

There was plenty of energy and scoring throughout the Wildcats' lineup, as 11 players got into the game and 10 scored.

Antonio Pena had eight of his 10 points in a strong second half, while Scottie Reynolds added nine points and Dwayne Anderson chipped in with 10 rebounds and seven points.

Standout freshman guard Dominique Jones led the way for South Florida (12-18, 3-14) with 29 points. Sophomore Chris Howard finished with nine points.

South Florida was coming off its first road victory in three seasons of conference play, a win at Rutgers on Saturday. But the excitement didn't carry over for the Bulls, who shot 17-for-54 in the game, including 4-for-23 from 3-point range.

"It's disappointing because you want to build off a road win like that," South Florida coach Stan Heath said. "I didn't think we did it. It was typical of teams that have a little success and then let their guard down. Villanova is not a team to let your guard down against."

South Florida cut into Villanova's 14-point halftime lead early in the second half, getting as close as seven points on a runner by Jones with just over 11 minutes remaining.

But the Wildcats regrouped behind the play of Clark, who followed a 3-pointer with a short jumper and pushed Nova's advantage back to 13 points with 6:37 left.

After a South Florida basket, Corey Stokes completed a three-point play and Pena followed with a baseline drive for a lay-in. The Bulls were whistled for an intentional foul, and Pena made one of two free throws to push the lead to 17 points with 5:50 left.

Pena sandwiched a pair of free throws and a three-point play around a lay-in by Corey Fisher to extend Villanova's lead to 23 points with approximately four minutes left.

The first half was all Villanova, as the Bulls struggled to find their shooting touch and seldom had more than one shot per trip down the court.

South Florida shot 5-for-25 from the field, 2-for-12 from 3-point range and 9-for-16 from the line in the first half and trailed by 14 points, 35-21, at the break.

Villanova had plenty of success inside, outscoring the Bulls 20-6 in the paint in the first period and 34-26 overall.

Clark led the way with eight points, including a rim-rattling slam of a miss by Malcolm Grant in the final minutes that gave the Wildcats their biggest lead of the half at 17 points.

Villanova's close-range scoring helped mask a 1-for-10 effort from beyond the arc in the first half.

Jones had 10 first-half points for USF.

USF freshman guard Dominique Jones was named the Big East Rookie of the Week for March 3 for his 31-point performance in a loss to Seton Hall and a 17-point outing, including the winning basket, in the Bulls first conference road win in three seasons last Saturday at Rutgers.