Villanova squeezes No. 3 Orange
Wayns helps Wildcats hand Syracuse second consecutive loss
The Associated Press
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Maalik Wayns scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half and No. 7 Villanova took a big lead then held on to beat third-ranked Syracuse 83-72 in front of a raucous Carrier Dome crowd Saturday.
It was the second consecutive game for each squad against a top-10 team. Villanova (17-2, 5-1 Big East) lost 61-59 at No. 8 Connecticut on Monday, when the Orange (18-2, 5-2) lost 74-66 at fifth-ranked Pitt. Syracuse had won 16 in a row at the Carrier Dome dating to last February, but disappointed a season-high crowd of 33,736, second-largest in the building's history.
The Wildcats played at a deliberate pace and hit 8 3-pointers in the first half, then withstood a Syracuse's rally. The Orange closed what had been a 13-point lead to five when Baye Moussa Keita converted a three-point play to move Syracuse within 75-70 with 63 seconds left.
But the Wildcats, who went 22 for 24 on free throws, hit six consecutive in the final minute to hold on. Guards Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher each had 16 points and Antonio Pena 10 for Villanova.
Kris Joseph, who missed the Pitt game with a head injury, finished with 23 points. Rick Jackson had 16 points and 15 rebounds, his 13th double-double, and Brandon Triche had 14 points for the Orange.
Syracuse's guards had an awful game. Scoop Jardine had two points on 1-of-8 shooting and Dion Waiters was 2 of 12, as both combined to go 1 for 10 from beyond the arc.
When the teams last met in the Carrier Dome last February, an NCAA on campus-record crowd of 34,616 turned out and Syracuse limited the Wildcats to 8 of 28 (28.6 percent) on 3-pointers and won by 18.
This time 'Nova's guards had their way from beyond the arc in the first half, hitting 8 of 13 as the Wildcats built a double-digit lead in the first 10 minutes against a zone defense that had been allowing just a 28 percent conversion rate from long range.
Fisher and Wayns repeatedly got open and combined to make 6 of 7 from beyond the arc as Syracuse fell behind by as many as 14.
And just to keep Syracuse guessing, Villanova went inside, too. Stokes fed Mouphtaou Yarou for a slam dunk with 1:52 left to give Villanova a 40-26 lead before Waiters converted a three-point play to move Syracuse within 11 at halftime.
Syracuse shot just 37 percent (10 of 27) in the period and allowed Villanova to score more points than any other opponent this season in the opening half.
The Orange scored the first six points of the second half to pull within 40-33 as Wayns and Fisher missed open 3s, and Syracuse was back in the game.
After Fisher's three-point play gave Villanova a 51-38 lead with 14:51 to go, Joseph scored eight consecutive points to lead a Syracuse surge. He swished a 3 over Stokes from the top of the key and hit another from the left wing before Jackson converted a three-point play to move Syracuse within 55-49 at 12:26.
The Orange had a chance to move even closer after Wayns and Dominic Cheek missed, but Jackson lost the ball out of bounds under the basket, wincing in dismay at the turnover.
Just over a minute later, Fisher drove the lane and then passed back out to Stokes for an open 3 from the top of the key that gave 'Nova a 59-49 lead with 9:31 left.
A follow by Jackson and a slam dunk by Joseph pulled Syracuse within 69-65 with 2:38 left and had the Carrier Dome shaking, but the Wildcats had nobody in front of them at the foul line and held on.