Rutgers stuns No. 9 Villanova with four-point play

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Rutgers stuns No. 9 Villanova with four-point play

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Posted: 10:08 p.m. Updated: 11:36 p.m.

By Reuben Frank
CSNPhilly.com

BOX SCORE

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Jay Wright: I dont think we crumbled.

Actually, crumbled is exactly what Villanova did.

The Wildcats led Rutgers by 13 points with 4:07 left. They led by nine with two minutes left. They led by five with 11 seconds left.

And still they lost 77-76 on Jonathan Mitchells four-point play with 0.8 seconds left in the game.

Rutgers scored 60 points in the games first 37 minutes and 17 in the final 2:41. Rutgers shot 2-for-10 from three-point range in the first 36 minutes and 6-for-7 in the final four minutes.

Rutgers scored seven points in the games final seven seconds.

Tough way to lose a game, Wright said. Down the stretch, we didnt execute. Three-possession game, youve got to make the right decisions, the right plays. We didnt. When youre down nine, youve got to make all the right plays and the right decisions, and they did.

No. 9 Villanova led 67-54 with just over four minutes left before Rutgers woke up. The Scarlet Knights outscored the Wildcats 23-9 the rest of the way.

The Wildcats, who beat Rutgers by 16 on campus on Jan. 2, fell to 19-5 with their fourth loss in their last seven games.

Rutgers, which had lost four straight, improved to 13-11, 4-8 in the Big East and 1-5 against top-20 teams.

The last four or five possessions of the game, we didnt do anything right and they did everything right, Wright said. They made every correct play. Turn over the ball, give up threes, turn over the ball, give up threes. If we dont turn it over one time, were OK. If we turn it over and they dont make one of those threes, were still OK.

As ugly as things were down the stretch for Nova, Corey Fisher still had a chance to put the game away at the foul line with six seconds left, but after he missed the first and made the second, Novas lead was just three.

Wright elected not to foul and send Rutgers to the foul line, a decision he immediately regretted.

Talk about poor decisions -- I made one there, Wright said. We talk about it all the time. Thats one of those times you say, We should have fouled.

With under two seconds left, James Beatty swung the ball to Mitchell beyond the arc on the right wing. Fisher tried to deny the pass to Mitchell, and while his hand was still out in front of Mitchell, the 6-foot-7 senior forward squared up and released his shot.

Fishers hand smacked Mitchells hand, the ball sailed through the net, and just like that, the game was tied.

After a 'Nova timeout, Mitchell sank the foul shot, Villanova couldnt get a shot off, and the Rutgers faithful had their first chance to storm the court since the Roy Hinson Era.

I went to the line and could have won the game, Fisher said. I was confident, but I missed the first, made the second, and we knew they were going to try a three, because there wasnt time for them to go for two.

As I was going to deny Mitchell, the ball was in his hands, and when I was denying, he went up in my hand, made the tough shot, went to the free-throw line and made the shot.

Im a captain on this team, and I think we should have won the game, said Fisher, who had 23 points and 10 assists. I made a mistake, but were going to learn from it, and Im going to continue to get better as a player.

Wright said he had no problem with the way Fisher defended on the possession. He said Fisher did exactly what he was supposed to do.

I dont think it was a mistake, he said. I would say if it was. Youre supposed to deny there. If he went and whacked him, I would say, but he wasnt going to contest the shot, he was trying to deny the pass, the pass went over his hand, his hand was there, and to go through a hand and finish that play is a pretty tough play.

Mitchell finished with a game-high and career-high 25 points, including four in the final second.

I always tell myself, I always want to take the last shot, Mitchell said. I want the game on my shoulders. I just let it fly and the shot went in. Definitely the biggest shot of my life.

After I hit the shot, I couldnt believe it went in. I had to calm down and relax and tell myself, Hey, just another night in the gym when nobodys here and the lights are off. I stepped up as a senior should and hit the free throw.

Villanova lost despite shooting 56 percent from the field (24-for-43) and 50 percent from three-point range (8-for-16).

The Wildcats hurt themselves at the foul line, where they made just 20 of 27 shots. Thats from the No. 9 team in Division I in free-throw shooting.

Corey Stokes, battling turf toe, scored 10 points in the first half but only played eight minutes after halftime and didnt take a shot. He wasnt on the floor during Rutgers comeback.

Antonio Pena made seven of 10 shots for 15 points and added eight rebounds, and Mouphtaou Yarou contributed 10 points and five boards for Nova.

Im obviously disappointed in the outcome, but were going to have to learn from this, Wright said. Even if we won the game, if he doesnt make that 3, we still have a lot to learn from the way we finished that game. Its tough, but its part of playing in the Big East. Youve got to come back.

I thought we played well, we just didnt execute down the stretch, and if you dont execute down the stretch, in this league, youre going to lose.

I dont think we crumbled. I just think they made some great plays.

Things dont get any easier for Villanova, which hosts No. 4 Pitt Saturday night at the Pavilion.

We got Pittsburgh on Saturday, and its a tough team, and were going to go back to practice and learn from our mistakes, Pena said. It is tough, but weve just got to look forward to our next game. Big East, every team is going to come in and play.

Related: Big East Wrap: St. John's knocks off No. 10 UConn Green's triple-double leads Michigan State over PSU

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Defense scores twice as Villanova beats Lafayette

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Defense scores twice as Villanova beats Lafayette

EASTON, Pa. -- Tanoh Kpassagnon returned a fumble 25 yards on the first offensive play of the game and Jeff Steeb returned an interception 45 yards to close the scoring and Villanova defeated Lafayette 31-14 on Saturday night.

Aaron Forbes, who ran for 111 yards on 11 carries, scored on a 3-yard run in the third quarter to put the Wildcats (3-1) up 24-14 after the Leopards (1-3) had rallied after falling behind 17-0.

Javon White's 1-yard plunge made it 17-0 for Villanova but Lafayette's Drew Reed hit Yasir Thomas for a 14-yard score just before halftime. Reed connected with Tim Vangelas on a 19-yard score early in the third quarter.

Lafayette finished with four turnovers with Rob Rolle picking off two passes, including one he returned 100 yards for a touchdown that was nullified by a penalty.

Villanova had 378 yards of offense, 238 on the ground while Lafayette had 342, 272 through the air.

Penn State routed by No. 4 Michigan at The Big House

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Penn State routed by No. 4 Michigan at The Big House

BOX SCORE

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- De'Veon Smith led an overwhelming ground game with 107 yards rushing and a touchdown and Karan Higdon ran for two scores and No. 4 Michigan routed Penn State 49-10 on Saturday in both teams' Big Ten opener.

The Wolverines scored six touchdowns on the ground as they finished with 326 yards rushing. Wilton Speight threw one touchdown pass.

Michigan (4-0) dominated both sides of the ball. Penn State (2-2) has lost three straight to the Wolverines.

Jabrill Peppers gave the fans an early thrill by returning Penn State's first punt to the 9, although a bench-interference penalty moved the ball to the Nittany Lions 24. Seven plays later, Khalid Hill dove in on 4th-and-goal from the 1.

The Wolverines also scored touchdowns on their next two drives. Penn State finally got a couple stops, but the Wolverines took a 28-0 halftime lead on Higdon's 2-yard run.

The Nittany Lions got on the board with a field goal early in the third, but Chris Evans made it 35-3 with a 3-yard run and the Wolverines cruised to the win.

The takeaway
Penn State: The Nittany Lions came into the Big House without any of their starting linebackers then lost Brandon Smith to a second-quarter targeting penalty. That left the Penn State defense helpless against Michigan's running game and short passes. The offense was even worse, putting up 50 yards in the first half. Saquon Barkley had 19 yards rushing and caught two passes for 47 yards, but the rest of the team combined for minus-16.

Michigan: The Wolverines dominated in the trenches, with their defensive line continuously overrunning Penn State's offensive line. They registered five sacks while building their first-half lead and Speight had all the time he needed.

Poll implications
Michigan: The Wolverines came in at No. 4 and there seems little chance that will change much with No. 1 Alabama winning earlier in the day in a blowout and No. 2 Ohio State on a bye.

Up next
Penn State: Returns to Happy Valley for the first of three straight home games. The Nittany Lions face Minnesota next Saturday in the Golden Gophers' first trip to Penn State since 2009.

Michigan: Plays its fifth-straight game at the Big House to open the season, but will have a tougher test against Wisconsin. The 11th-ranked Badgers routed No. 8 Michigan State 30-6 in East Lansing.