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Reynolds leads Villanova past Notre Dame

Mar 3, 2009 - 6:00 AM SOUTH BEND, Indiana (Ticker) -- Scottie Reynolds scored 23 points to lead No. 16 Villanova to a 77-60 victory over Notre Dame on Monday.

Reynolds added six rebounds and five assists for the Wildcats (24-6, 12-5 Big East), who were coming off a 56-54 loss to Georgetown on Saturday, and playing to maintain their chances of getting a pair of byes in the Big East conference tournament.

Dante Cunningham added 18 points for Villanova.

"That was the best defensive game we played all year," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "They are an outstanding offensive team and preparing for them is so difficult. We have a lot of respect for them. For us to defend them like that is the best performance we have had in a long time, defensively. Our seniors really stepped up."

Ryan Ayers scored 25 points for Notre Dame (16-13, 7-10), which again came up short in its bid for a marquee win to put on its NCAA Tournament resume.

The Irish lost a hard-fought contest at then-No. 2 Connecticut, 72-65, on Saturday.

Now, Notre Dame is guaranteed to finish the season with a losing conference record and faces the prospect of having to win the Big East Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament field.

"I would say it is frustrating because you had two opportunities on Saturday and Monday to get a quality win and we didn't get it," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "The disappointing thing is that we played really well Saturday but we didn't play as well tonight. Some of that was our doing but a lot of it was Villanova's doing. They're really a good team and they're a tricky matchup for us with the guard oriented stuff and the speed."

Ayers was 8-of-12 from the field, including 7-of-10 from the arc and Luke Harangody added 18 points and seven rebounds.

"We didn't defend as well as we wanted to," Ayers said. "They really beat us on the defensive end. They played really well. They got us out of our comfort zone offensively. They outplayed us in that six-minute stretch in the second half."

The game was tied, 32-32, at the break, but Villanova asserted itself in the second half while Notre Dame went cold.

The Wildcats went on runs of 10-2 and 16-1 in the second half while the Fighting Irish had a stretch of close to seven minutes without a field goal.

It was a complete reversal for Villanova as far as protecting the ball as the Wildcats committed a season-low five turnovers after a season-high 20 against Georgetown.

"It feels unbelievable. We took a lot of positives from the Georgetown game with us and also learned from the negatives," Reynolds said. "We put it together tonight. Notre Dame did a great job in the first half of hitting shots and matching our energy, but at the end of the game we found a way to put it away."

The Wildcats scored 21 points off 15 turnovers by the Irish, who shot 40 percent (21-of-52) from the field and made only 10-of-20 foul shots.

"We understood their personnel well. We took the time to study every little detail," Cunningham said. "We were on top of things, and it felt like we were always moving on defense."