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Villanova trounces Lafayette in NCAA opener

Mar 20, 2015 - 5:43 AM Pittsburgh, PA ( - Dylan Ennis led a razor-sharp Villanova offense with 16 points and the top-seeded Wildcats rolled to a 93-52 win over Lafayette in the NCAA Tournament East Region second round.

The Wildcats looked every bit the part of a national championship contender in their tournament opener, shooting a torrid 63.2 percent from the field and going 11-of-22 from 3-point range while committing just eight turnovers in an overwhelming performance.

"I think we are offensively playing as well as we have all season," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. "It's a good, good time to do it."

Daniel Ochefu chipped in 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting and Ryan Arcidiacono had 13 points for Villanova (33-2), which will take a school-record 16-game win streak into Saturday's Round of 32 matchup with eighth-seeded North Carolina State.

The Wolfpack battled back from a 16-point second-half deficit to earn a 66-65 decision over LSU in Thursday's finale of the Pittsburgh session.

Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston added 12 points each while finishing a combined 10-of-13 from the floor.

Dan Trist paced 16th-seeded Lafayette (20-13), the champions of the Patriot League Tournament, with 18 points and Seth Hinrichs netted 13 for the Leopards.

The overmatched Leopards never posed a threat for Villanova, which began the game on an 11-2 run and owned a 19-8 lead midway through the first half prior to breaking the contest wide open.

Kris Jenkins buried back-to-back 3-pointers to ignite a 13-0 stretch in which the Wildcats scored on five consecutive possessions. Josh Hart capped the surge with a triple of his own, staking Villanova to a commanding 34-13 advantage with six minutes still to play in the period.

"We know what kind of team they were. We have a lot of respect for them. They came into our house last year and gave us a great battle," Hilliard said of Lafayette. "We were down late in the game and we knew if we didn't come in and kind of play defense the way we were supposed to, it could be an easy, closer game. It was great to come out and kind of jump on them from the start."

The Wildcats closed out the stanza on an 8-0 spurt to head into the break up by a 49-26 count, having shot 62.5 percent for the half and outscoring Lafayette 24-10 in the paint.

"I think playing the No. 2 team in the nation, we were a little nervous," Hinrichs admitted. "But we just didn't execute to come out to start. We knew we had to get off to a good start and we didn't do that tonight."

Villanova remained hot coming out of the intermission, knocking down its first six field goal attempts of the second half and stretching the lead to 63-30. Arcidiacono hit three of those shots while accounting for seven points during a 14-2 run.

Lafayette never got the margin under 31 points from there, with the Wildcats going ahead by as much as 45 when an Ennis trey made the score 84-39 with 8:59 remaining.

"It's hard to come back against them. They handle the ball so well," Leopards head coach Fran O'Hanlon remarked. "We knew coming in here how well they handle the ball. It's not like we could pressure them or trap them. They just move it too well."

Game Notes

Villanova posted a 75-59 win over Lafayette when the teams squared off at the Pavilion in the 2013-14 season opener ... O'Hanlon was a guard for Villanova from 1967-70 and still holds the Wildcats' single-game record for assists. He was inducted into the school's athletic Hall of Fame in 1992 ... The Leopards fell to 0-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and were making their first appearance since 2000 ... Villanova has now won 30 straight games in which it has scored 70 points or more ... The Wildcats improved to 17-0 all-time against current Patriot League members but had two close calls against the league during the regular season, earning a 77-66 win over Lehigh and a 72-65 decision over Bucknell.