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Reynolds sparks Villanova past Niagara

Nov 20, 2008 - 6:51 AM VILLANOVA, Pennsylvania (Ticker) -- Scottie Reynolds scored 19 points to lead No. 25 Villanova to a 77-62 victory over Niagara on Wednesday in a Philly Hoop Group Classic matchup.

Reynolds scored 10 of his points in the first half for Villanova, which has won its last 18 home games. Corey Fisher had 15 points and Reggie Redding had eight of his 14 points before the break as Villanova went to the locker room with a 36-30 lead.

"I just tried to be more aggressive but the good thing about our team is that if a couple guys aren't making shots there are a lot of places to go," Redding said. "A game like this just shows the depth of our team and the talent that we have."

Dante Cunningham scored 11 points for the Wildcats (3-0). He netted a career-high 31 in a win over Fordham on Monday.

Tyrone Lewis scored 16 points and Rob Garrison added 15 for Niagara (1-1).

The Purple Eagles trailed by as many as 13 in the first half but hung around and made a strong push early in the second half. Lewis hit a 3-pointer and Benson Egemonye added a three-point-play in the lane. Egemonye then split a pair of free throws to cut the gap to 40-38 with 16:52 to play.

After Garrison hit a 3-pointer to pull Niagara within 53-48 with 10:06 to play, Villanova went on a 9-0 run to take control.

"First off I want to give Niagara credit. They are a tough, scrappy team and that wasn't any surprise to us," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "I am happy that we gutted out a victory that wasn't pretty. It is good to have a game like this in the bank."

Corey Stokes made a 3-pointer to start the burst and Redding capped it with a jumper with 7:20 left to put the Wildcats on top, 62-48.

Villanova has a 19-10 series lead over Niagara. Wednesday's meeting was the first since 1976 and a preliminary round game in the Philly Hoop Group Classic. The championship round games will be played November 28-29 at the Palestra.

The game was a Philadelphia homecoming for a number of members of the Purple Eagles. Niagara coach Joe Mihalich was a standout player at La Salle; assistant coach Phil Martelli Jr. played for his father at Saint Joe's; forward Bilal Benn transferred after playing two seasons for Villanova.

"I just said to our team that the two things you have to deal with in life are success and failure and we had both tonight in the same game," Mihalich said. "We felt like we played well in stretches and we played hard and had a toughness to us. At the same time we are probably going to look at the tape and see some things we regret."

Benn scored 11 points and had eight rebounds for Niagara.