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Villanova overpowers Lafayette in season opener 75-59

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Villanova students packed the Pavilion Friday night to watch the Wildcats take on Lafayette.

Lafayette visited Villanova on Friday night just outside of Philadelphia in the regular season opener for both teams. Villanova would overcome inefficient 3-point shooting in the first half and a six point deficit in the second half to beat Lafayette 75 - 59.

Lafayette shot 5 for 10 from long range in the first 20 minutes, compared to Villanova hitting just 3 of 18 from deep in the first half.

Villanova got senior leadership early and often from guard James Bell, who scored a career best 24 points on the night. Bell scored the first 13 points of the game for the Cats. Bell also pulled down 9 rebounds.

Darrun Hilliard added 13 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in a well rounded performance.

Villanova forward JayVaughn Pinkston, a force in the paint that proved too much for Lafayette in the second half, finished with 22 points.

When Pinkston was asked in the post game news conference if he asserted himself offensively he modestly attributed his success to following the coaching staff's direction. Jay Wright then pushed the credit back to his player by responding, "I'll answer that for him. Yes."

Lafayette head coach Fran O'Hanlon's post-game comments pointed out that their plan to use zone defense on the perimeter worked to contain Villanova in the first half. 

Villanova's strength and athleticism took over in the second half, however. O'Hanlon referred to Pinkston as "a load on the inside" leading to foul trouble and ultimately a loss for the Leopards.

6'7 shooting guard Seth Hinrichs scored 15 points for Lafayette to lead the team.

Lafayette freshman point guard Nick Lindner (Doylestown PA / Germantown Academy) chipped in 8 points and 7 assists in a hopeful debut performance. Lindner is set to take over point guard duties this year for the Leopards following the graduation of team leader Tony Johnson.

O'Hanlon, a former star Villanova player, has taken his team to the Patriot League championship game 3 of the last 4 years. Lafayette is picked to once again finish 2nd in the conference entering the season behind Patriot League newcomer Boston University.

Villanova, picked to finish 4th in the new look Big East this season behind Georgetown, Marquette and Creighton, came into the game a bit banged up, especially in the sophomore guard category. Dylan Ennis is out with a broken hand, and Ryan Arcidiacono played while nursing bruised ribs, an injury which caused him to miss a recent exhibition game against West Chester. Lafayette held Arcidiacono to just 3 points.​

Lafayette will host Robert Morris at 7 PM on November 12th.

Villanova's next game is at 7 PM on Wednesday November 13th at home against Mount St. Mary's.