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Villanova survives long-range assault by Navy

Dec 23, 2008 - 5:24 AM VILLANOVA, Pennsylvania (Ticker) -- Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds combined for 47 points as Villanova survived a 3-point barrage by Navy, 78-68, on Monday.

The Midshipmen were on target from long range, hitting 14-of-28. In fact, they only had six two-point baskets, going 6-of-26 from inside the arc.

Cunningham scored 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting and added 11 rebounds. Reynolds had 23 points, hitting 7-of-16.

"If you're a Navy fan or part of their program you have to feel good about coming in here and playing like that," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "I'm sure (Navy coach Billy Lange) would rather win but I think they have got to walk out of here proud. They played better than our team did tonight.

"We just had Dante (Cunningham) who was maybe just a little more talented but they played better as a team."

This marked the second time in their respective careers that Cunningham and Reynolds have eclipsed 20 points in the same game. The first time happened on March 2, 2007 at the Wachovia Center in a 78-75 win over Syracuse.

Chris Harris kept Navy in the game, almost singlehandedly. The 6-2 junior scored 30 points, connecting on 9-of-15 overall and 8-of-10 from behind the arc.

Harris tied the individual record for most 3-pointers made against Villanova. The feat had been reached twice. Delray Brooks (Providence) was the first to do it on January 10, 1987 and Jason Maile (Pittsburgh) matched the effort on February 12, 1997.

"I thought we didn't do a good job of finding him early and once you let a shooter like that get it going he becomes really difficult to stop," Wright said. "I actually didn't think we did a bad job as the game wore on against him but he had it going and we had a tough time slowing him down."

The Midshipmen were within 65-61 with four minutes left before Cunningham sank a layup to build the bulge to six.

The Wildcats were forced to the foul line to keep their advantage. Antonio Pena hit a pair and Cunningham split two to make it 70-64 with less than two minutes left.

Cunningham had reached double figures in a career-best 10 straight games to begin the season before recording nine points in a win over La Salle. Cunningham is shooting 58 percent (83-of-143) from the field to average a team-best 17.3 points per contest.

Navy climbed back within four as O.J. Avworo hit a pair from the line with 1:35 remaining.

Corey Fisher then hit 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to make it 71-66 with 1:22 left.

Kaleo Kina, who was 5-of-22 from the field, then missed a short jumper. Pena was fouled and sank another pair to run the lead to seven. Adam Teague missed from beyond the arc for the Midshipmen and Harris was forced to foul, sending Reynolds to the foul line, where he canned a pair.

Kina missed another 3-point shot and Pena grabbed the rebound. He was fouled and hit a free throw.

Harris then canned a short jumper to make it 76-68 with 23 seconds left.

"Once (Harris) got it going it was hard to stop him," Reynolds said. "Once he started hitting threes then he would make plays for his teammates. That's something we have to work on. We just have to do a better job. ... Give the credit to Navy but we have to look ourselves in the eye and know we have to get better."

Corey Stokes added another pair of foul shots for Villanova to make it 78-68 with 20 seconds left and close out the scoring.

The Wildcats showed some rust from an eight-day layoff due to exams.

"It was definitely the case (that we were ragged)," Wright said. "We really take pride in not allowing that to happen. As a staff, we try to work at that and obviously didn't do a good enough job. We depend on our leadership to take care of that and they didn't do a good enough job.

"It was our attention to detail. It was losing (Chris Harris) early. (It was) offensive rebounds in the first half, missing free throws, all of that."

Villanova moved to within one victory of tying its longest winning streak inside the Pavilion. The Wildcats have won 22 straight games in their on-campus home. Villanova's longest run in the facility is 23 games and it will have a chance to tie the mark against Temple on December 29.

For Lange, who coached under Wright from 2001-2004, close was good but not good enough.

"We came in here hoping to win, thinking we could win and expecting to win," Lange said. "But we played against a good team that doesn't beat itself. We come out of here with a loss. There are no moral victories but I'm encouraged by the progress we are making.

"They've got a great team. They don't beat themselves. They don't turn it over, make their free throws, share the basketball, pass it well and I think they'll have a great season."