Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Villanova 77 Cincinnati 73

(Enquirer/Jeff Swinger)

The Cincinnati Bearcats showed heart Tuesday night, but it wasn't enough to overcome Villanova and loss #13. Cincinnati is now 16-13, 7-10. Villanova pretty much wrapped up the second spot in the Big East tournament I believe, as they are now 24-5, 13-4. The game was pretty weird to watch, because the first half was relatively normal, and the second was plagued by horrible officiating. Not just on UC, but on both ends. Both teams were at 6 fouls before the first media timeout. The second half took 77 minutes. That kind of disjointed effort by the whistle blowers matched the disjointed effort on the court. Before we dive too deep into the game action, I want to say thanks to the fans that showed up and gave a great ovation to the seniors, especially Deonta Vaughn, and got loud when we needed it. There was a 'Thank You Vaughn' chant near the end, and I, and Mick, and Deonta appreciate it. Maybe we'll see Deonta in one last home game in whatever post season tournament UC is playing in a couple weeks. 

Deonta Vaughn started Senior Night the best way that he knew how, starting the scoring action off with a 3 to a nice ovation. Antonio Pena responded with 4 straight points on a basket and free throws. Lance Stephenson put UC back in the lead on a tip off his own shot, but Corey Stokes got hot. After Mouphtaou Yarou made one free throw, and Steve Toyloy scored on a pump fake, Stokes nailed a pair of 3s to give Villanova the advantage. Pena scored on a putback, and 6:25 in, it was 13-7. Mick Cronin changed the line up around some, and we had a Biggie McClain sighting. I don't know why either. Reggie Reddding iced a step back j to push the Nova run to 10-0, before Deonta scored on a spin move runner off the glass. Vaughn followed with a 3 of his own, and forced a steal that Rashad Bishop couldn't convert from in close. But, Nova would miss and Cashmere Wright would 'cash' in on a jumper on the women's 3 point line to bring the crowd to it's feet and Jay Wright to call a timeout. The 7 point run made it 15-14. Out of the timeout, Stokes hit another 3. On the way up the floor, Cronin was hit with a technical. He objected to a couple of non called push offs and I think a non call travel before the 3. Stokes made 1 of 2 at the line for a 5 point lead. Yancy Gates got involved by getting to the line, and made 2. The teams were settling for jumpers, and there were stretches where there was no scoring. At the 10 minute mark up 3, the Wildcats went on another run. Yarou hit a jumpshot, Pena tipped a telegraphed pass by Vaughn intended for Gates to Scottie Reynolds, who would hit the big man for a lay up, and Corey Fisher would ice a 3. That would be the last Nova field goal for a while, and UC would take advantage. A put back by Ibrahima Thomas, and a step up jumper by Bishop cut the lead to 26-20 at the 6:52 timeout. Pena would make 1 of 2 free throws, before Bishop hit a runner off a rebound. Reynolds would turn the ball over, leading to a Larry Davis to Gates lay up and a foul, which Gates converted to make it 27-25. The teams clanked jumpers, exchanged offensive fouls, and turned the ball over for the next few minutes until Dominic Cheek was fouled by Thomas and made one. After a wild 3 attempt by Vaughn, Taylor King threw a pass right to Ibby, who fed Vaughn racing up the court. The senior would score with a foul. He drilled the free throw and tied the score. Corey Fisher hit a 3 for Nova's first field goal in 7:38. The half ended when Deonta Vaughn got a friendly bounce from the rim (foreshadowing alert) to send us in the locker room tied at 31. 

Villanova shot 10-24, 5-11 from three, and 6-10 at the stripe. They gathered 16 rebounds, 6 offensive. The Wildcats scoring was done by Stokes 10-3, Pena 9-6, Fisher 6, Yarou 3, and Redding 2. Scottie Reynolds had 2 assists. For Cincinnati, they shot 12-31, 3-13 from deep, and 4-4 at the stripe. The Bearcats pulled home 14 rebounds, 6 offensive. They were powered by Deonta Vaughn's 14, but also Gates had 5, Bishop 4, Stephenson 2-4, Thomas 2-3, Toyloy 2, and Wright 2. UC had 5 assists on 12 shots, continuing the trend of solid first half passing.

Mike DeCourcy wrote something interesting in his column after the game. He said teams don't need to change line ups to start the second half and play the starters again. UC went on their run with Thomas, Davis, Gates, Vaughn and Stephenson, but started the half back with Toyloy. Toyloy couldn't hang with the Nova front line in the first half and didn't play much after the 15-7 lead, and half 2 started the same way. Yarou was wide open underneath for a lay up from Redding, who forced a steal from Gates, and found Reynolds for 3. It was the first basket by the senior. Fisher drove to the basket, got fouled, made both for a 7 point lead. Vaughn scored the first UC point of the half on a free throw, but it was on the miss that shit got real. On the rebound, Antonio Pena got reached in on, so he threw an elbow back at Yancy Gates. Gates got in his face before Larry Davis pulled them apart. Both got technicals, and Pena a personal. Pena scored the next point on a free throw, and on the next Nova possession, Yarou was fouled. As he walked to the line, he got a little shove by Gates, who was taken out of the game. Yarou made 1, but after a UC miss, Reynolds knocked down a 3. 43-32 would be the under 16 timeout score. UC settled for 3s nearly this whole time. Both teams went zone, but Nova's zone was sagging in on Gates letting the UC wing players fire up bricks as they are wont to do. Steve Toyloy of all people fired up a 15 footer that was nowhere near close. At the 14 minute mark, UC got their first basket of the half as Vaughn hit a cutting Bishop. Bishop followed with a 3 after Stephenson grabbed a rebound, raced up the court and dropped the ball off to him. On UC's next possession, Toyloy had the ball on the block, he turned, his defender flopped, allowing Toyloy to pass to Lance for 2 and a 7-0 UC run. Nova would run the lead right back though. Maalik Wayns broke the UC zone by finding Yarou. Deonta Vaughn dribbled the ball up court, and while dribbling off the right shoulder, simply lost the ball. Wayns picked it up, and foul Taylor King, who dunked with a foul on Vaughn. King missed the free throw, but Nova had a 45-37 advantage at the under 12. Yancy Gates would draw a foul before the timeout, and after he made both free throws. Stokes (over a double team) and Gates exchanged buckets, and after a Bishop put back, Nova would extend the 4 point lead. Scottie Reynolds fueled an 8-0 run with 3 free throws after Bishop hit his arm while he was shooting a 3, he fed Yarou for 2, and dropped another 3 for a 57-45 lead at 8:23 and a Cronin timeout. UC continued to brick 3s, with Larry Davis being one of the worst offenders. Larry was 0-5, and none of them looked close. He's lost a lot of confidence in his j this year. If the first doesn't fall, none of them do. Out the break, Rashad Bishop took the ball to the rim, GASP, for a traditional 3 point play. But Yarou found Stokes for a dunk, Stephenson bricked a pair of free throws, Redding hit a 3, and Stokes hit a pair from the charity stripe. With under 7 minutes to go, Nova lead 64-48. With their backs, and season, against the wall, UC fought back hard. Stephenson converted a traditional 3 point play. Reynolds made a pair of free throws for Nova here, 66-51. Jaquon Parker, who hadn't played since the USF game 2 weeks ago, scored 5 in a row on a spin move for a lay up, and an open 3. Rashad Bishop got a piece of a Taylor King 3 attempt, on the other end Vaughn nailed one. With 4:26 on the clock, Nova lead by 7. Nova would travel, and Stephenson took advantage by drawing a foul. He missed both, but Yancy Gates pulled down a huge rebound and scored. Lance stole the ball from Redding, made both, cutting the deficit to 3. Reynolds missed an open 3 for Nova. On the UC possession, Stephenson missed a chance to tie, but Bishop flew down the lane for a put back to make it 66-65. A 17-2 run with the season on the line. Redding was fouled, and made both. Parker missed a 3 to tie, but Redding got a 3 to bounce off the rim, off the backboard and down after it looked like Reynolds traveled with 1:31 left. It was Nova's first basket in 5:30 and a huge one. Gates cut the lead to 4 on free throws, and UC got a steal when Stokes slipped on the inbound and the ball was passed right to Stephenson. He passed to Vaughn open on the right wing, but it was shades of Marquette as Deonta missed. There was a jumpball on the rebound, and UC had the arrow. But, Bishop missed a 3, and Vaughn had a foot out of bounds while trying to tie up the long rebound. With 40.3 to go, Reynolds hit 2 free throws. Vaughn missed a runner, but Redding only made 1 ft for Nova. Stephenson got fouled, but missed both. Taylor King made both for an 8 point lead. UC's last second rally saw Stephenson score a traditional 3 point play, Nova travel, and Bishop hit a 3. But with 3.2 left, Reynolds hit a pair of free throws to push the lead to 4, and the final score.

Villanova finished 21-44 47.7%, 10-21 47.6% from deep, and 25-35 at the stripe. They pulled home 28 rebounds, 6 offensive. Reynolds had 17, all in the second half, and 5 assists, Stokes 14-4, Redding 11, Pena 10-7, Yarou 10-2, Fisher 10, King 4-5, Cheek 1. Wayns had 3 assists, crucial in spreading the lead. Cincinnati was 26-66 39.4%, 7-30 23.3%, 14-21 66% at the line. They gathered 31 rebounds, 14 offensive. Rashad Bishop had 19, 15 in half two, Vaughn 18-3 assists, Gates 13-5, Stephenson 12-7, Parker 5, Thomas 2-3, Wright 2-3, and Toyloy 2. 

All congratulations to Villanova. They played hard, and executed when they had to. Reynolds was great in the second half, and Redding was key. Rashad Bishop really brought it in the second half for UC when we needed it. Vaughn had a great first half. Stephenson played overall solid. The things that hurt tonight were the same things that hurt all season. Big opponent run, check. Offensive ineptitude, check. Jacking up 3s, check. Missing big free throws, check. Getting torched on d at the wrong times, check. In many ways, this has been a lost season. Cincinnati has had chance, after chance, after chance to close out games and they haven't. The effort seems to vacillate between 'we really want to play hard' and 'we could be playing right now.' It's so frustrating to watch some of these things day in and day out. It was a hell of a comeback, but it ended the same way they all do. Missed open 3, check. Defensive breakdown, check. Missed chances, check. Missed tournament, check?

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