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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Villanova shows class, pulls away from Rider

Rider's Danny Stewart gets tangled up with Villanova's Daniel Ochefu. AP Photo

 VILLANOVA, Pa. — Losing to the No. 8-ranked team in the country isn’t what bothered Rider coach Kevin Baggett.

Instead, it was the way the game got away from his team in the second half.

A 14-point halftime deficit quickly turned into an insurmountable Villanova lead in what eventually was an 88-67 loss for the Broncs Saturday afternoon at The Pavilion.

“It starts with competing,” Baggett said. “I thought in the second half we could have competed a little better.”

Rider (5-5), which had a three-game winning streak snapped, went from down five with 4:41 left in the first half to down 21 just 2:25 into the second.

The Wildcats (11-0) led by as many as 27 in the second half.

“In the locker room, we said we can’t have no regrets,” said freshman guard Jimmie Taylor, who finished with 15 points. “We’re going to regret that second half because we didn’t play as hard as we’re supposed to.”

Anthony Myles led Rider with 22 points and Danny Stewart added 15.
Josh Hart paced Villanova with 19, JayVaughn Pinkston scored 14 and Darrun Hilliard finished with 13.

Baggett thought the Wildcats could hurt the Broncs with their strength inside and that certainly was the case.

Villanova won the battle on the glass 37-29 and held a 16-12 advantage in second-chance points, although that number was 12-1 at halftime before Rider made up some ground when the end result was already determined.

The biggest second-chance opportunity for Villanova came when Kris Jenkins rebounded Tony Chennault’s missed free throw with seven seconds left in the first half and kicked it back out to Chennault who buried a jumper. That gave the Wildcats a 43-29 lead at half.

“Physically, in some areas our guys got out-matched today,” Baggett said. “Those guys really did a good job. We can’t rebound those missed shots and that’s going to hurt us. They were able to get some second-shot opportunities, which ended up building the lead. That was disappointing for us not to be able to block out and come up with some of those rebounds.”

Villanova scored nine of the first 11 points in the second half, putting the game out of reach.

“We didn’t match their energy,” Taylor said. “We just came out sluggish and got away from our gameplan. We didn’t hustle. We didn’t get the loose balls. There were guys diving all over the floor, but none of those were our guys.”

Down 25-12 with 7:13 left in the first half, Baggett called a timeout and got an excellent response from his team, which scored the next seven points to get within six after back-to-back baskets by Taylor. Rider got as close as 27-22 with 4:41 left after Myles spilt a pair of free throws.

Even in defeat, the 6-foot-3 Taylor continues to be impressive. He shot 6 of 12 from the floor and had four assists to one turnover.

“Jimmie, as a freshman, is doing awesome,” Baggett said. “He’s figuring it out. He’s learning. I’m very happy with what he’s getting done for us. I just see him getting as the year goes on and as we get into the league.

Villanova, off to its best start since the 1961-62 season, avoided a letdown following three straight Big 5 victories and a trip to Syracuse on deck.

“If our guys didn’t come to play, we get beat today,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. “Our guys came to play. Everyone is talking about the Syracuse game, but it really is a pleasure to coach guys that can focus on the next game and have respect for their opponent. That, I think, is the best thing we did today.”

Rider fell to 1-9 vs. ranked opponents since 1995 with its lone victory coming over Mississippi State in 2009.

NOTES: Sophomore forward Khalil Alford suffered a concussion late in the second half after getting caught by an inadvertent elbow. Baggett said his biggest concern is Alford being able to take his flight home for the holidays. … Villanova honored past basketball alumni during halftime. On hand was national championship winning coach Rollie Massimino, who was presented with a framed picture and received a standing ovation.


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