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Returning Redding leads Villanova past Fordham

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Bubbling with excitement, Reggie Redding didn't have thoughts of grandeur as he prepared for his first game back from suspension for Villanova.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Bubbling with excitement, Reggie Redding didn't have thoughts of grandeur as he prepared for his first game back from suspension for Villanova.

The senior guard wasn't thinking about glitzy stats or crowd-pleasing plays because that's simply not him. Redding is more about the grunt work - digging in to play defense, straining for rebounds.

It's Redding's blue-collar work ethic that eighth-ranked Villanova needed as the Wildcats spent almost a week licking their wounds from last Sunday's loss to Temple, their only one so far this season. And that's what they got in Saturday's breezy 96-58 rout of Fordham at the Izod Center.

Redding, whose 10-game suspension ended yesterday, looked in mid-season form as he scored 15 points, grabbed nine rebounds, added three assists, three steals and two blocked shots and had zero turnovers.

"It's certainly great to have Reggie back," coach Jay Wright said after. "It makes me feel a lot more comfortable on the sideline."

The university suspended Redding for the first semester after he was charged with two marijuana-related misdemeanors following his arrest by Radnor Township police on July 28. The charge of possession or distribution of marijuana was dropped. Redding still faces a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. A small amount of marijuana was found in Redding's car near campus dormitories.

Redding had been permitted to practice with the team, but he was not allowed to sit on the bench or be part of team-related functions.

"I had nothing but support from my teammates and coaches and the university," Redding said after the Wildcats ran their record to 10-1. "There was nothing bad said. It was, 'I'm here for you. We're going to step up for you until you get back.' . . . It hurt me because I had to sit out, but they stepped up."

Redding started and had an immediate impact. His first shot of the season - a three-pointer - was all net as he scored Nova's first basket of the game. He went on to shoot 6-for-9 in 27 minutes.

Perhaps most importantly, Redding gave a Villanova defense that had struggled the three previous games determination and sense of purpose.

"Everything," Wright said when asked to characterize Redding's impact on defense. "First of all, intelligence. He knows every spot. We can play him at the 2, 3 and 4 spots. He can guard any of those spots and he knows everything we're doing. He's a very unselfish player defensively. He has great instincts defensively."

Fordham (2-7) was still hanging around when Alberto Estwick drained a three-pointer to bring the Rams within 49-42 at the outset of the second half. Then it was all Villanova, which scored 40 of the next 50 points. Five Wildcats hit double figures with Scottie Reynolds, Corey Fisher and Antonio Pena scoring 17 each.

"Just having (Redding) back was an extra boost," said Fisher, who also had four assists and two steals.

Wright said that although improving the Cats' defensive play was a top priority after the surprising loss to Temple, he hasn't been thrilled with the defense for most of the early season. The problem became more glaring the previous three games when Nova allowed an average of 83.3 points to Maryland, St. Joseph's and Temple.