Villanova routs Lafayette to stay perfect
Watching Villanova on tape gave Fran O'Hanlon an uneasy feeling. Seeing the Wildcats in person might give him nightmares.
Corey Stokes scored 19 points, and Corey Fisher had 16 to lead No. 6 Villanova to an 86-41 victory over Lafayette on Saturday night.
Jared Mintz scored 12 points for the overmatched Leopards (1-3).
''They were scary when I looked at them on film, and certainly when you see them up close,'' said O'Hanlon, the Lafayette coach and former Villanova star. ''They're a good basketball team.''
The Wildcats (4-0) won their 41st straight game at The Pavilion. Their average margin of victory this season has been 28.5 points.
Villanova will get a tougher test against UCLA in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
''They've got length and athleticism,'' Wildcats coach Jay Wright said about UCLA. ''It should be a great game.''
As expected, this was no contest from the start. It didn't help that Lafayette didn't have starting forward Darion Benbow, out with a broken finger.
Stokes hit three 3-pointers early, including consecutive 3s to cap a 10-0 run and give Villanova a 19-6 lead. The Wildcats led 31-10 before Lafayette had a 10-0 run of its own. Ryan Willen had a 3-pointer and layup during that spurt.
''My teammates did a great job of getting me open shots and I knocked them down,'' Stokes said.
Fisher made a sensational reverse layup to give the Wildcats their biggest lead to that point, 49-26, early in the second half. Maurice Sutton's dunk extended the lead to 30 with more than 11 minutes left. Fisher scored on another outstanding reverse minutes later to make it 70-37.
Six Wildcats scored in double digits, and the team shot 50.7 percent (34 for 67).
''We're a team that keeps getting better every game,'' Fisher said.
Villanova honored O'Hanlon in a pregame ceremony. O'Hanlon, a member of the school's Hall of Fame, co-captained the Wildcats' team that reached the Elite Eight in 1970. Big 5 Hall of Famers Chris Ford and Tom Ingelsby were among O'Hanlon's former teammates in attendance.
''I have great memories of Villanova,'' O'Hanlon said. ''It was very nice of Jay and Villanova to do that and to see my former friends and teammates. It's always tough to come back here to play. I'd rather come back and watch the Wildcats as a fan.''
The Wildcats certainly didn't take it easy on one of their own. Despite a double-digit lead, players went all-out. Antonio Pena went sailing over the press table while chasing a loose ball early in the second half. No one was injured.
Fans began filing out with three minutes left after Villanova scored 17 straight. Those who stayed gave a loud ovation when walk-on junior Dallas Ouano entered.
While Villanova has become an NCAA tournament regular under Wright, Lafayette is coming off just its first winning season in six years. The Leopards, who don't play many ranked opponents in the Patriot League, haven't beaten a Top 25 team since topping Rutgers in December 1978.