Rice named MOP as balanced Syracuse beats Villanova to win Big East title
VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Syracuse captured its second consecutive Big East tournament championship with a 13-9 victory against top-seeded Villanova on Saturday at Villanova Stadium.
Sophomore attackman Kevin Rice paced the Orange (13-3) with two goals and three assists. Rice finished with seven points (four goals, three assists) in the tournament and was named most outstanding player. He was joined by Derek Maltz, JoJo Marasco, Dominic Lamolinara and David Hamlin on the all-tournament team.
The Orange offense was efficient all day as nine different players had goals and nine of the team's 13 goals were assisted. Syracuse shot better than 35 percent (13-for-37) for the game and converted on three of four extra-man chances.
In addition to Rice's five-point performance, Scott Loy tied his career high with three goals and Dylan Donahue added one goal and two assists in the victory.
Syracuse led 3-2 after the first quarter, and notched three of the first four goals in the second period to open up a 6-3 advantage. Villanova (7-8) responded with a transition goal by Chris Piccirilli and a man-up tally by Kevin O'Neil to close the gap to 6-5 with 7:58 left in the opening half.
Following O'Neil's goal, the Orange defense stepped up, shutting out the Wildcats for the remainder of the second quarter. The SU offense took advantage as Matt Walters and Loy each scored late in the half. Loy's goal with eight seconds left pushed the SU margin to 8-5 at the break.
The Orange added to its advantage in the third quarter, notching the first three goals after halftime to take its largest lead of the game at 11-5. Maltz opened the second-half scoring by finishing a Marasco pass. Loy followed with an unassisted goal and Marasco closed the run with an extra-man goal at the 4:22 mark.
The Villanova scoring drought reached 19:36 before a Jack Rice tally ended it at 3:22 of the third quarter, trimming the SU lead to 11-6.
Rice's goal shifted the momentum to the Wildcats, who started the fourth quarter with three more goals to make it an 11-9 game before Donahue stopped the Villanova surge by scoring with 6:47 left.
After Donahue's goal the Orange regrouped and Villanova never scored again. Henry Schoonmaker put the finishing touches on the victory with an unassisted goal with 19 seconds left to produce the final score.
Jack Rice, Tim Mulrenan and Piccirilli all had two goals apiece for Villanova. Reed Carlson saw almost 40 minutes of action in goal for the Wildcats and recorded 12 saves, while backup Greg Stamatov had three saves in a little more than 19 minutes of work.
Lamolinara made nine saves in the cage for Syracuse to improve to 10-2 this season.