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Villanova holds off La Salle for 10th win

Dec 15, 2008 - 5:05 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Corey Stokes scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half as 12th-ranked Villanova posted a 70-59 "Big 5" victory over La Salle on Sunday night.

Scottie Reynolds poured in 13 points and Dante Cunningham added nine with four blocks for the Wildcats (10-1), who used a 20-1 run in the first half to move one step closer to sweeping their city rivals this season.

"It wasn't pretty, but it's a 'Big 5' game and we'll take it," Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. "This is a tough place to play, and I'm very proud of our guys."

Villanova, who had already defeated Penn and Saint Joseph's this month, will host Temple on December 29 in hopes of completing the "Big 5" sweep.

Rodney Green and Kimmani Barrett each scored 16 points for the Explorers (4-4), who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

The Wildcats faced an 18-16 deficit at the midway point of the first half, but La Salle then failed to hit for field goal for nearly six minutes. Stokes and Villanova capitalized on the Explorers' misfortune.

"I think our defensive pressure helped us," Stokes said. "We forced turnovers and that allowed us to go run. Coach told us to keep it up."

Stokes made three 3-pointers over the Wildcats' decisive burst, which gave them a 36-19 lead with 4:14 remaining. Shane Clark scored four points on the run, while Reynolds added another basket from the arc.

"It was Shane Clark and Reggie Redding," Wright said of the key stretch. "Those two gave us incredible energy off the bench. Both teams were kind of battling there and those two came in really fresh and helped us.

"We were able to rest our starters and getting through that first half with Dante having two fouls was huge for us. That was a good learning experience for us that we can do that for a half."

Villanova made 8-of-16 shots from the arc, while La Salle managed just 4-or-14 from 3-point range.

The Wildcats, who committed just eight turnovers, took a 36-26 cushion into the break and did not allow the Explorers within nine in second half.

La Salle coach John Giannini was not pleased with his team's 15 turnovers.

"For us, it's just another night. Sometimes you have to see it hurt you," Giannini said. "It was a key factor in us being noncompetitive."

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    #1 Cards Fan Added 10 roots

    Villanova(12) 70, La Salle 59  FinalDec 14 9:02 PM

    --- --- -----
    VILLANOVA (12) 36 34 70
    LA SALLE 26 33 59 FINAL

    Dec 14 9:01 PM

    (12) VILLANOVA 36
    LA SALLE 26 0:00 LEFT, 1ST HALF

    Dec 14 7:53 PM