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Villanova outlasts Delaware 84-80

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Villanova's JayVaughn Pinkston shot 10-11 from the foul line vs Delaware on his way to 26 points.

Villanova and Delaware both took the court Friday night at the Pavilion looking to extend current winning steaks, but only one of these perennial football rivals could come out on top in this hardwood edition of the "Battle of the Blue". Villanova outlasted Delaware in a game that saw 11 lead changes and 8 tie scores for an 84-80 victory, improving the Wildcats' unblemished record to 4-0 on the season.

Villanova junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston kept the Wildcats in the win column with a 26 point effort. Much of Pinkston's damage came from inside the paint and the foul line, going 10-11 from the charity stripe on the night.

Pinkston was asked by his head coach, Jay Wright, "Do you like scoring inside or out on the perimeter?"

Pinkston answered "Doesn't matter."

"That's right", said Wright.

Junior guard Darrun Hilliard contributed a well rounded effort with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Senior guard James Bell added 16 points for the Wildcats. 

Offensive rebounding was another big part of the story for Villanova, who held a 19-11 advantage in that department over Delaware for the game. Sophomore big man Daniel Ochefu pulled down a game high 11 rebounds, including 6 offensive boards. Ochefu looked very raw offensively at times shooting the ball and committing 2 traveling violations away from the basket, but was a huge presence on the defensive end, blocking 2 shots and forcing adjustments on several others.

Delaware held its share of leads and kept fighting back whenever it seemed like Villanova would pull away, including a late 74-65 score in favor of the Wildcats that soon turned into a tie game at 76-76.

Delaware shot a respectable 42% from 3-point range on 11-26 compared to just 20% on 5-25 for Villanova. The Wildcats held the advantage at the free throw line, however, going 21-27 for 78%, while the Blue Hens made just 9 of their 15 foul shots on the night.

Delaware senior guard Davon Usher, a Mississippi Valley State transfer, led all scorers with 27 including five 3-pointers. Junior guards Jarvis Threatt and Kyle Anderson added 16 and 17 points respectively.

Senior forward Carl Baptiste had a big first half for the Blue Hens on his way to a 13 point, 8 rebound effort.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright commented on defending the outstanding guard play and well rounded nature of Delaware's attack with, "Baptiste did well early because we were worried about Threatt."

Delaware, now with a 2-3 record on the season, can be especially optimistic after this outing on the road against an undefeated Villanova team in their on-campus arena when you also consider the Blue Hens are playing without their best player in guard Devon Saddler. Saddler, Delaware's 2nd all-time leading scorer, was suspended earlier this month for a violation of teams rules. Saddler is on track to return to the team in mid-December to help Delaware make its run at a CAA title and possible post-season birth.

After the game Delaware head coach Monte Ross commented, "I told my team I was very proud of them. The thing we always talk to our team about is responding when teams make runs. These guys have supreme confidence in themselves, whoever we play."

On a recruiting note for Villanova, 6'2 guard Eric Ayala from Sanford, Delaware, in the class of 2017 was in attendance.

Villanova's next game comes Thursday November 28th against USC (4-1) in the Bahamas as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. The battle 4 Atlantis bracket also include new Big east team Xavier, Big 12 powerhouse Kansas, Tennessee, Iowa, Wake Forest and UTEP.

Delaware hits the road again but stays even closer to home when they take on Delaware State (1-3) on Monday November 25th.