Skip to content
Villanova Wildcats
Link copied to clipboard

'Nova holds on to defeat Dayton

With Villanova minus its starting center, and with two of its top shooters misfiring through the first two days of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the fifth-ranked Wildcats have received contributions from some unexpected sources.

With Villanova minus its starting center, and with two of its top shooters misfiring through the first two days of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the fifth-ranked Wildcats have received contributions from some unexpected sources.

Yesterday, redshirt freshman Maurice Sutton and sophomore transfer Taylor King took their turns for the Wildcats, putting up some significant numbers that helped the 'Cats hold off 18th-ranked Dayton, 71-65, at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan.

The Wildcats (4-0) will play Mississippi, an 86-72 winner over Kansas State, tomorrow night for the tournament title.

The 6-foot-11 Sutton, inserted into the starting lineup because freshman Mouphtaou Yarou was back in Philadelphia undergoing tests for a viral infection, played a career-high 30 minutes, grabbed eight rebounds (three offensive) and blocked two shots.

"Maurice Sutton was unbelievable, blocking shots, rebounding," Villanova coach Jay Wright said via telephone. "He got us extra possessions with offensive rebounds when we needed them. He did a good job defending their big people. He was big-time."

Sutton, who scored four points, described his performance as "just doing what the team wanted me to do.

"Whatever the team needs, I'm here to do it," he said. "They don't need me to score. Defense is my first job - defending, blocking shots and rebounding. We've got great scorers."

King, who sat out last season after coming to the Main Line from Duke, hit four three-point shots on his way to 14 points, and also pulled down nine rebounds.

Other than King, the Wildcats made just 1 of 11 tries from three-point range. Corey Stokes had the lone trey, but that was his only basket in nine shots overall. Scottie Reynolds went 3 of 12.

Corey Fisher led Villanova with 18 points. He connected on 10 of 12 free throws and is 24 of 30 from the line in two games.

"That's just my job, being the lead guard, being aggressive, getting into the lane," the 6-1 junior said. "We've got guys that can step up and hit shots and we've got big guys who can finish at the basket. My job is to get my teammates involved and get them easy shots."

The Wildcats looked to be cruising when King's three-ball capped a 17-7 run and gave them a 54-37 lead with 14 minutes, 9 seconds remaining. But 'Nova would make only one basket in the next eight minutes and the Flyers (3-1) rallied.

An 18-4 run drew Dayton to within four, 58-54, on Luke Fabrizius' three-pointer with 6:05 to play, and the Flyers cut it to 62-60 on London Warren's pair of free throws with 2:23 remaining. But the 'Cats made 9 of 10 free throws - four by Fisher - from that point.

"They hit some big-time threes to get back in the game," Wright said of the Flyers. "We were doing some good things. Down the stretch, we hit some free throws and got stops and Fish made some big plays."

The Wildcats' new players have been truly visible in Puerto Rico. Isaiah Armwood hit the game-winning three-ball on Thursday, and Sutton and King raised their games yesterday.

So even though Reynolds and Stokes are struggling, Wright doesn't appear worried.

"They're getting good looks," he said. "We know they can make shots. But I'm excited about it. The other guys try to take away Stokes and Reynolds and the other guys are stepping up. That's really been encouraging."

Published