for this game

Second-half surge helps Villanova squeak past DePaul

Feb 26, 2009 - 6:13 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Scottie Reynolds and Villanova knew not to look past DePaul due to their last trip to the Windy City, but it almost didn't matter.

Reynolds scored 15 of his 18 points after halftime as No. 12 Villanova used a big second-half run to hold on for a 74-72 victory at lowly DePaul on Wednesday.

Dante Cunningham also had 18 points and six rebounds for the Wildcats (23-5, 11-4 Big East), who won for the eighth time in nine games and maintained their fifth-place standing in the Big East Conference.

Villanova, which trailed 33-25 at the half, took control with a 21-5 run, pulling ahead 52-44 on Antonio Pena's three-point play with 10:56 to play.

Although they have yet to claim a win in the Big East, the Blue Demons threatened the Wildcats all night. However, they came up short trying to repeat last year's 84-76 victory here on January 3.

"I can't tell you how impressed I am by that team, that hasn't won a Big East game, to play like that and play together," Villanova coach Jay Wright told The Chicago Tribune. "That says everything about those kids and Jerry Wainwright. Come on, we got lucky. They outplayed us.

"I feel for those kids. I told our team, you have to respect what they did. ... I'm so impressed by what they did. That's a tough thing to do as a coach, to keep those kids playing hard, and they gave it up for each other."

DePaul (8-20, 0-15) was paced by Will Walker, who scored 23 points and connected on a career-high six 3-pointers.

The Blue Demons had a 39-31 lead after two free throws by Walker with 17:34 to play, but Cunningham hit a jumper to start the Wildcats' decisive spurt.

Reggie Redding had a layup and Reynolds hit a 3-pointer to close Villanova within 39-38 with 14:35 left. Although Jeremiah Kelly answered back with a shot from the arc for DePaul, Corey Stokes hit the first of his two 3-pointers during the run.

The Wildcats would extend their lead to 60-48 on a layup by Cunningham with 6:22 left, but the Blue Demons would not go away.

Walker scored the next 12 points for his team - all on 3-pointers - as DePaul closed within 62-60 with 2:49 remaining. However, it could get no closer than two as Reynolds scored eight points and Villanova made all eight of its free throws down the stretch.

"They all hurt, but it does hurt to feel like you had them," Walker told the Tribune. "We stayed in the game and didn't let them pull away. We keep getting closer and closer."

Stokes finished with three 3-pointers en route to 10 points and Corey Fisher chipped in 12 as the Wildcats won for the fourth time in their last five road games.

Mac Koshwal had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Blue Demons, who had lost their previous seven league games by at least 15 points.