Tonight in the City 6: La Salle battles St. Bonaventure

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Tonight in the City 6: La Salle battles St. Bonaventure

Two City 6 teams are on the schedule Wednesday night, both from the Atlantic 10. La Salle hits the road to play St. Bonaventure, while St. Joe’s hosts Richmond hoping to cling to one of the final spots for the A-10 tournament.

La Salle (16-6, 6-3 A-10) at St. Bonaventure (11-11, 4-5)
7 p.m., Reilly Center

Previous games
La Salle has won four of five and seven of its last 10 games overall. In their last game, the Explorers dismantled Fordham, 89-53. Four players scored in double figures, led by Sam Mills’ 21 points on a career-high seven threes. Tyreek Duren had a perfect day, going 5 for 5 from the floor, including 4 for 4 from the three and 2 for 2 from the line for a total of 16 points. He also added eight assists. La Salle shot 18 for 33 (54.5 percent) from beyond the arc and tied a school record for three-pointers made. They dished out 22 assists as a team and turned the ball over just seven times.

St. Bonaventure is coming off a win as well, its fourth in six games. The Bonnies entered halftime down six to a Rhode Island squad that was just 1-7 in conference play but managed to escape with a 67-61 victory. Propelled by Eric Mosley’s 21 points and five threes, St. Bonaventure stormed back to outscore the Rams by 12 in the second half. Rhode Island won the rebounding battle, 34-23, but it was not enough to slow down the comeback. Aside from Mosley, the rest of the St. Bonaventure team shot a woeful 1 for 12 from three-point range.

Top players
Ramon Galloway has been La Salle’s workhorse all season long. The senior guard leads the team in scoring (17.1 per game), steals (2.3 per game) and three-point percentage (41.6 percent). He ranks second to Duren in assists with 3.4 per game, and also averages 4.5 rebounds. Galloway has eight 20-plus point games and has hit two or more three-pointers in 18 of 22 contests.

Demitrius Conger has been St. Bonaventure’s best player for most of the season. His 13.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists are all top averages on the team. The senior forward shoots 83.5 percent from the line, 18 percentage points up from his freshman year. Conger has scored in double figures in 18 of 22 games. The Bonnies are just 1-3 in games where he fails to reach the 10-point mark.

Keep an eye on …
Since starting 5-0 at home, St. Bonaventure has just one win in its last five home games. La Salle is 6-4 on the road.

Recent series
The Explorers are just 2-3 in the last five meetings with St. Bonaventure. In last year’s 71-61 victory, Duren led La Salle with 21 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Richmond (14-10, 4-5 A-10) at Saint Joseph’s (13-9, 4-5)
7 p.m., Hagan Arena

Previous games
After winning three in a row, St. Joe’s has dropped its last two games by a combined 24 points. In its last game, an 80-62 loss to Massachusetts, Langston Galloway led St. Joe’s with 14 points and seven assists but shot just 2-for-9 from three. The Hawks had four scorers in double figures but turned the ball over 14 times and allowed UMass to shoot 51.8 percent from the field.

Richmond has lost three of four, most recently a 56-46 defeat at home to St. Louis. Not only was Cedrick Lindsay the lone Spider in double figures with 20 points, he was the only one who made more than one field goal. Richmond shot a dismal 10 for 43 (23.3 percent), 3 for 15 from the three (20 percent) and had just five assists as a team. The team that ranks 338th of 345 Division I teams in rebounding (29.0 per game) was out-rebounded, 42-27, by the Billikens.

Top players
Carl Jones has been the Hawks' top scorer this season. The senior guard averages 14.9 points, 2.9 boards and 2.8 assists while shooting a team-best 38.2 percent from three-point range. He has reached double digits in the scoring column in 16 of his 20 games. The Hawks are 0-4 in the games where Jones scores less than 10 points.

Darien Brothers and Derrick Williams have co-starred for Richmond this season. Brothers’ 15.7 points per game leads the Spiders. The senior guard also shoots 45.3 percent from three and an incredible 88.8 percent from the line. Williams, a junior forward, averages 13.1 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds while shooting 55.4 percent from the floor.

Keep an eye on …
The A-10 standings. Both teams come into the game in a three-way tie for 10th in the conference. With only 12 teams qualifying for postseason play, the winner will give itself a tiny bit of breathing room, while the loser will have to claw its way back into the mix.

Recent series
St. Joe’s is just 1-4 in the past five meetings with Richmond after splitting the season series last year. In the two games last season, Galloway averaged 14 points and Jones averaged 13.

Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

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Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

At 16-2-1, Penn State's men's hockey team is ranked first in the nation for the first time in program history.

The Nittany Lions have improved each of the last four years under head coach Guy Gadowsky. 

Their record by year:

      2013-14: 8-26-2
      2014-15: 18-15-4
Last season: 21-13-4
This season: 16-2-1

Penn State received 30 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO Division I poll. Denver is ranked No. 2, followed by Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth and Massachusetts-Lowell (see USCHO poll).

Penn State was ranked fourth last week before sweeping Michigan State.

Villanova focused on learning from win over Seton Hall, not No. 1 ranking

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Villanova focused on learning from win over Seton Hall, not No. 1 ranking

A few hours before Villanova hosted Seton Hall on Monday night, head coach Jay Wright came home and talked to his wife, Patty.

“You know you’re No. 1?” she said.

Wright didn’t react much to the news, nor did the players on the team when they found out during the pregame meal a little bit later.

“It’s not really that big of a deal this time,” Wright said. “I think we were all much more concerned with Seton Hall.”

Being No. 1 may almost be old news at this point, but thoroughly dominating good teams at the Pavilion never gets stale for the Wildcats, who cruised to a 76-46 demolition of the Pirates on the same day they regained the top spot of the rankings after a week at No. 3 (see Instant Replay).

Senior Kris Jenkins sparked the win with 16 points, shooting 4 for 6 from the three-point line and 4 for 4 from the foul line — numbers he cared far more about than the No. 1 in front of Villanova.

“That’s just a number,” Jenkins said. “We focus on getting better each and every day. We can lose our next game and we won’t be No. 1.” 

Villanova reached the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for the first time in the program’s illustrious history last season, a couple of months before winning the national title on an iconic buzzer-beater from Jenkins.

The Wildcats then spent five weeks at No. 1 this season before a 66-58 loss to Butler on Jan. 4 moved them out of the top spot — only briefly, as it turned out.

“Every time you do something first is exciting,” Wright said. “And then you learn from it. I think we learned a great lesson last year and I think it helped us this year. And we learned a lesson again when we went to Butler. So you keep learning from it, that’s what we really take from it.”

As the Wildcats said last season, the most important thing is finishing the season No. 1. And they certainly showed once again that they have the chops to repeat as national champs — a prospect that Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard called “pretty exciting” even after his team had its brains beaten in.

“That’s a tough team to play,” Willard said. “They’re the No. 1 team in the country for a reason. If you’re not clicking on all cylinders when you come here, that can happen.”

Willard went on to say that “if Josh Hart’s not the National Player of the Year, then there’s something wrong.” But against the Pirates, Hart had a modest 11 points as Villanova showed off its impressive balance with all seven players in Wright’s rotation finishing with at least eight points.

Afterwards, Wright credited his three seniors — Jenkins, Hart and Darryl Reynolds (eight points, nine rebounds) — for helping the team bounce back from a sub-optimal performance in Saturday’s 70-57 win over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m just really fortunate to have three guys who are experienced and have been successful but are really humble,” Wright said. “We looked at the film, told them St. John’s played harder than us, and we took care of it. I think our seniors set the tone.”

Saturday’s win wasn’t the only game at the Garden on Villanova’s mind. The last time the Wildcats played Seton Hall, they suffered a stinging defeat to the Pirates in the title game of the Big East Tournament. 

Jenkins, though, insisted, that rare loss didn’t offer any extra motivation. Neither did the fact that Villanova set a record with its 47th straight victory at the Pavilion. Or that Monday’s win was the program’s 1,700th of all time.

“Numbers are something that is becoming a challenge for us,” Wright admitted. “It’s a great challenge to have. Right now, it doesn’t really do anything for us. But trust me, at the end of the year, we take great pride in that. All it can do is distract us right now. We know we have to answer the questions and you guys do a great job. I usually learn the numbers from you guys. It’s just not gonna do anything for us right now.”

Wright may not always like talking about his team’s absurdly impressive accomplishments. But he certainly loves games like this one as the Wildcats dominated all phases, from start to finish.

Deadly long-range shooting? Tenacious defense? Creating turnovers and scoring off them? Big-time hustle plays and rebounds? Electrifying dunks? Villanova did it all Monday in front of a raucous section of students back from winter break and one spectator named Ben Simmons, who took in the game from a courtside seat and applauded with everyone else.

What’s it like coaching a game like that? Is it ever hard when your No. 1 team is up by 30?

“It’s not difficult at all,” Wright said with a laugh. “It’s enjoyable. Things are going well, so you’re enjoying yourself.”