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.''