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No.23 Villanova puts away Hartford

After playing about 30 minutes of indifferent basketball tonight, Villanova decided that it was time to break out the A game.

After playing about 30 minutes of indifferent basketball tonight, Villanova decided that it was time to break out the A game.

With Dwayne Anderson providing a spark off the bench at both ends of the floor, the Wildcats unleashed their running game in a 12-0 second-half spurt and finally subdued a feisty Hartford squad, 103-75, before a crowd of 6,500 at the Pavilion.

Scottie Reynolds scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half to pace five players in double figures for the 23d-ranked Wildcats (8-1). But it was Anderson who helped lift the Wildcats out of a game-long lethargy against the Hawks (5-7).

A 6-foot-6 junior who had played only 18 minutes in four games this season, Anderson entered the game with 11 minutes, 28 seconds to play and the Wildcats leading by 63-59. The Hawks trailed by only 66-63 with 9:57 left before Villanova went on its game-changing run.

Freshman Corey Fisher hit a three-point basket. Anderson then stole the ball and went in for a layup off a pretty pass from Fisher on a two-on-one break.

After a layup by Shane Clark, Anderson scored a basket inside and got another steal at the defensive end, which Reynolds converted into a conventional three-point play to end the 12-0 spurt and give the Wildcats a 78-63 lead with 7:57 remaining.

An interesting sidelight to the Villanova run, which took only 1:40 to complete, was that Hartford coach Dan Leibovitz never called a time-out, something that his mentor, Temple coach John Chaney, probably would not have done, either. Leibovitz was an assistant coach for Chaney with the Owls.

The Wildcats went on to post their second straight 100-point game, reaching triple digits on Reggie Redding's three-point play with 2:20 remaining.

Fisher added 18 points and Clark 16. Anderson finished with eight. Joe Zeglinski, an Archbishop Ryan graduate, led the Hawks with 20, and Warren McLendon added 19.

The Wildcats struggled with turnovers and poor defense throughout the first half. Just when they looked as if they were going to build a good cushion by halftime, they finished the period with three straight turnovers and saw a nine-point lead shrink to 44-41.

The Hawks could have been closer, or even ahead, if they hadn't missed 10 of their 19 free throws. They went into the game averaging just 21 free-throw attempts per game, but proved to be fearless going to the basket - and Villanova, frankly, did a lot of reaching.

Zeglinski knocked down four of six three-point baskets in the opening half and led all scorers with 15 points, about a point over his average. Fisher and Malcolm Grant led the Wildcats with nine points apiece.

The Wildcats shot just under 52 percent from the field but committed 11 turnovers against eight assists. Reynolds had more turnovers (three) than shots (two) and finished the half with four points and four assists.

Dante Cunningham wound up with seven points and a game high of 10 rebounds in the half.

Hartford, which shot 45 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, came out ready to play. The Hawks scored five points in the first 44 seconds and had drawn two team fouls with the game barely more than 90 seconds old.

The Wildcats had trouble dealing with McLendon, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound post player, who hit his first two shots after entering the game. They kept sending him to the free-throw line, but maybe that was good strategy - McLendon connected on just one of eight foul shots in the half.

Grant and Fisher nailed a three-pointer and a floater, respectively, to give Villanova a 22-16 lead less than eight minutes into the half, and another Grant three-ball made it 25-21. But it took the Wildcats more than three minutes to score again, when a trey by Grant moved them into a 28-28 tie.

Zeglinski was on a hot run, draining a 12-foot baseline pull-up and a pair of threes, the second one putting Hartford back in front, 31-28, with 7:39 remaining.

But then the Wildcats had their best run of defense in the half, holding Hartford without a point on eight consecutive possessions for nearly 51/2 minutes. At the other end, Villanova scored 12 consecutive points, capped by a three-point basket by Corey Stokes, who had missed his first five shots from behind the arc.