Feb. 2, 2010

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) -- Corey Stokes hit two 3-pointers during the decisive run and scored all 11 of his points in the second half, helping No. 2 Villanova hold off a serious scare from Seton Hall in an 81-71 victory Tuesday night.

Stokes was a non-factor for the Wildcats (20-1, 9-0 Big East) until he broke a tie with a 3. He quickly followed with another 3-pointer for a long-range start to an 11-0 run that helped put the game away and extended Villanova's winning streak to 11 straight games.

Playing with their highest ranking since they were No. 2 for two weeks in February 2006, the Wildcats could not make a serious run against Seton Hall until late.

Jeremy Hazell kept thoughts of a second Top-10 Big East upset alive, scoring 32 points on 12 of 23 shooting for the Pirates (12-8, 3-6), who were outrebounded 50-31.

Seton Hall beat then-No. 9 Pittsburgh 64-61 on Jan. 24, but the Pirates failed to build on that marquee win, losing by two points in overtime at South Florida.

Hazell made the idea of another stunner seem realistic with the way he was shooting the 3. He made six of them, but it was his layup that helped the Pirates erase a halftime deficit and grab a 58-56 lead.

At that point, the Pirates had made 23 of 46 shots from the field. They made 6 of 21 the rest of the way, costing them what would have been a monumental win for the program.

Seton Hall is 0-28 against teams ranked Nos. 1-3 The Associated Press poll.

Hazell, the only Pirate to finish in double figures, did not play the final 4 minutes of the game.

Not Villanova. The 10-deep Wildcats got some kind of production out of every player. Antonio Pena scored 16 points, Scottie Reynolds had 15 and Corey Fisher 12. Six players had at least five rebounds and 10 scored. Those are the kind of numbers usually seen in blowouts, not a 10-point win that was tight for all but the final few minutes.

Reynolds became the eighth Villanova player to score 2,000 points. He scored a beautiful finger roll for a 60-58 lead, then dished a sweet cross-lane pass to Fisher on the break for a 62-58 lead.

The Wildcats are the only Big East team unbeaten in conference play. That mark is in serious jeopardy over the next week. The Big East favorites play at No. 7 Georgetown on Saturday and at No. 6 West Virginia on Feb. 8.

Villanova is so deep that it led by seven at halftime even with Stokes missing the only shot he took. He hit three 3s in the second half and suddenly that first half whitewash meant nothing. Not when so many different players are scoring.

Hall of Famer and former Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. had a front-row seat for Villanova's 36th straight win at its on-campus home, the Pavilion.