Thursday in College Basketball: Villanova Survives Saint Joseph's

Brett LissendenSenior Analyst IDecember 12, 2008

Thursday night was a quiet night in college basketball, as only eight games took place.  Only one top-25 team was in action and only one other power conference team

Villanova tops Saint Joseph's

After losing to Texas, their first of the season, in Tuesday's Jimmy V Classic, Villanova nearly earned their second loss Thursday.

Saint Joseph's jumped out to a 35-26 halftime lead, but Villanova clawed their way back to tie it in the second half.  The Hawks regained the lead when Ahman Nivins made two free throws with 44 seconds left to to lead by one point.

It was St. Joseph's game to win, until the referees whistled the Hawks for a blocking foul with 4.8 seconds remaining to send Villanova's Scottie Reynolds to the foul line.  Reynolds made both free throws to give the Wildcats a one point lead.

Saint Joseph's then showed their inexperience in the final seconds.  Their inbounds pass was stolen at midcourt, forcing the Hawks to foul with just over two seconds remaining.  Down by three, St. Joseph's overthrew the intended player and failed to even get off a potential game-tying three-pointer.

Villanova prevailed 59-56 and Saint Joseph's fell to a record of 4-5.

While three of their losses have been against respectable teams—Texas, Alabama, and Creighton—their other two losses were not against quality opponents.  The Hawks lost to Lehigh and Holy Cross early in the season. They will needto turn things around in the Atlantic Ten Conference to have a chance at the NCAA Tournament this season.

Atlantic Ten

St. Joe's near upset adds to an already impressive list of A10 teams this season.

Rhode Island led Duke by 10 at Cameron Indoor Stadium before falling to the Blue Devils by three points.

Dayton defeated previously-ranked Marquette by 14 points.

Xavier has yet to lose a game and won the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic with an impressive victory over Memphis in the championship game.

Temple and Massachusetts have started slow this season, but Temple made the NCAA tournament a season ago and UMass was the NIT runner-up.

Other Results

Kansas State was the only other power conference team in action Thursday defeating Southern Miss 74-55.  Kansas State center Luis Colon led the Wildcats with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Miami (Ohio) also had a nice win by defeating Wisconsin-Milwaukee 69-45.  Wisconsin- Milwaukee is 2-0 in the Horizon League, a conference that has enjoyed resonable success in the NCAA tournament.

Fairfield also had a nice road win over Atlantic Ten doormat Fordham 69-66.  Fairfield is also 2-0 in the MAAC and is looking to compete with Siena for the MAAC's NCAA tournament bid.

Top Performer

Middle Tennessee State's Desmond Yates had 27 points and 13 rebounds in their team's victory over Troy in the Sun Belt Conference opener. MTS reached the conference championship game last season by upsetting South Alabama, who earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, before losing to Western Kentucky, who reached the Sweet 16.

Yates is averaging an impressive 16.5 points per game and five rebounds per game on the season.


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