No. 6 Villanova 82, Boston U. 66

These Wildcats have balance – inside and out.

Antonio Pena scored 17 points and Corey Fisher had 16 to lead

No. 6 Villanova to an 82-66 victory over Boston University in the

second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats (3-0) won their 40th straight game at The Pavilion,

and advanced to face UCLA in the semifinals of the tournament next

Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

John Holland scored 14 points and Jake O’Brien had 13 for the

Terriers (1-2).

The Wildcats shot 55.2 percent (32 of 58) mainly because they

got most of their points on layups. Known to be a solid 3-point

shooting team, Villanova took just 12 shots from beyond the arc and

only made one.

The Terriers focused on taking away Villanova’s perimeter

shooting, so the Wildcats worked the ball inside to their big

guys.

”We’re more of a traditional team than we’ve ever been,” coach

Jay Wright said. ”It’s fun. We’ve got an inside game and obviously

we’ve got guards. We’ve learned how to read it and take advantage

of the inside game.”

Coming off a 37-point win over Marist on Tuesday, Villanova

cruised again. The Wildcats led by 16 at halftime and were never

seriously challenged.

Pena stole a pass and strolled in for an uncontested slam to cap

an 18-5 run and give Villanova a 24-12 lead with 8:35 left in the

first half.

The Terriers tried to make a run in the second half. Matt

Griffin’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to 57-45 midway through. But

Mouphtaou Yarou scored on a layup and Pena sank two free throws and

hit a jumper to extend Villanova’s lead to 63-45.

”Coach is always telling me to be more assertive,” Pena said.

”Playing with Fish, (Corey) Stokes and Maalik (Wayns), that can be

amazing for any forward. I just have to get my hands ready and be

around the basket.”

Griffin nailed an 18-footer to get BU within 72-59 with 4:36

remaining. The Wildcats answered with a layup by Dominic Cheek and

two free throws by Wayns, who finished with 12 points and 12

assists

BU didn’t get closer than 14 the rest of the way.

”They’re a tough team,” BU coach Patrick Chambers said. ”We

knew they would try to jam it down our throats and they did. Wayns

and Fisher are lightning-quick, hard to stay in front of. I knew

they are good players, and Pena did a great job.”

It was a homecoming for Chambers, most of his staff and team.

Chambers spent four years on Wright’s staff, the last one as

associate head coach in 2009 when the Wildcats reached the Final

Four.

Chambers played at Philadelphia University, and BU’s assistant

coaches all went to Big Five schools. Eight Terriers attended high

schools in the extended Philadelphia area.

While Villanova has become an NCAA tournament regular under

Wright, BU clearly isn’t close to that level. This was BU’s first

game against a top-10 opponent since losing to No. 1 Duke five

years ago.

”Our guys never gave up,” Chambers said. ”They competed for

40 minutes. I think we took a step to get better.”

The schools met only once before, a Villanova win during the

1937-38 season.

The normally animated Wright again spent most of the game

sitting on the bench. He got up a couple times, but didn’t do much

yelling at his players or referees.

”I don’t know why I’m doing it,” Wright said. ”I have great

confidence in Maalik and Fish calling the plays. I’m enjoying

it.”