NEWARK, N.J. - For everyone who was wondering if Scottie Reynolds' game had slipped a little bit, last night was for you.

Villanova's junior guard matched his career high with 40 points and sank his team's final four points from the free-throw line in overtime to lead the 18th-ranked Wildcats to an 89-85 victory over Seton Hall in a Big East Conference game at the Prudential Center.

Reynolds, who entered the game shooting just 37.7 percent from the field, knocked down 10 of 17 field-goal attempts last night, including 5 of 8 from three-point range. He scored his final 10 points from the line, where he was 15 of 16.

At one point, with 11 minutes, 52 seconds left in the second half, he had 31 of his team's 52 points. But he said he never felt as if he was in a true groove.

"I had a couple of lucky ones," he said. "I had a travel on a fastbreak - I think the crowd noticed that one. But when I hit that one, I thought, 'Something's going my way.' Some of my threes I hit in transition off screens were bad ones, but they were open ones. That was the difference."

Villanova coach Jay Wright said he did not realize Reynolds had piled up 40 - his first 40-point game since late in his freshman year - until someone told him outside the locker room.

"I had no idea he had 40, or even close to 40," Wright said. "When you get in a close game like that, he's the kind of guy who loves having the ball in his hands. And I'm sure 40 will definitely help your confidence."

Villanova received plenty of contributions as the Wildcats (13-2 overall, 1-1 Big East) held off the pesky Pirates (9-6, 0-3).

Providing a huge assist to Reynolds was Reggie Redding, who played the entire second half and overtime and shut down the dangerous Jeremy Hazell. The Pirates' leading scorer finished with 26 points but managed just three in the final 20 minutes, 25 seconds.

"I don't think it was just me, it was a team effort," said Redding, who contributed 10 points. "We just said at halftime that one person isn't going to be able to [guard Hazell]. So I just tried to get in him more, tried to get him to drive the ball, tried not to let him get off an easy shot."

Unfortunately for the Cats, Hazell's last three points came on a banked shot from the top of the key that tied the game at 76-all with 9.2 seconds left in regulation. That capped a Pirates comeback from an eight-point deficit in the last three minutes of the second half.

"A lot of times we work hard on defense, get the stop, and things happen," said forward Dante Cunningham, who got 21 points and 13 rebounds. "He was feeling it and he got off a pretty good shot. It went in. At least he didn't win it for them."

Cunningham's two free throws gave the Wildcats the lead for good with 58.4 seconds left in overtime. Reynolds hit two free throws with 14.2 seconds left to put 'Nova up four, then nailed another pair at the 10.9-second mark to restore the four-point edge.

Hazell, the No. 2 scorer in the Big East with a 22.9-point average coming into the game, shot 9 of 24 from the floor, but just 3 of 8 in the second half and overtime.

"We said coming in, 'We can't let him get it going,' " Wright said. "His first three was a loose ball that he picked up; that wasn't our fault. Then he got a three off another loose ball. When he gets it going, then you're dead. But I thought Reggie did a great job limiting his touches in the second half."

Even without Hazell going off in the second half, the Pirates crept back into the game after Villanova took a 74-66 lead on Antonio Pena's basket with just over three minutes to play. The Wildcats had only two points in the remainder of regulation.

The Cats also got a big boost from Dwayne Anderson, who pulled down 15 rebounds.

"We've got people who can rebound, people that can score and people that can play defense," Redding said. "If we all come together and get better as a team, we can be a very good team."

Tickets on Sale

Seventeenth-ranked Villanova will play the first of four Big East games in South Philadelphia against No. 21 Louisville at the Wachovia Center on Saturday at noon. A limited number of newly released lower-level tickets are available via www.ComcastTIX.com, 1-800-298-4200, or the Wachovia Complex Box Office.EndText