USF beats Villanova 74-57 in Big East play
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Jawanza Poland matched his career-high with 20 points to lead South Florida to a rare Big East road victory, 74-57 over Villanova on Thursday night.
It was just the seventh road win in the seven seasons since the Bulls (9-7, 2-1) joined the league.
Maalik Wayns scored 17 points to pace Villanova (7-8, 0-3), which lost its third straight and sixth in eight games.
It was just the second loss in the last 53 games for the Wildcats at the Pavilion, their on-campus arena. The only other defeat during the stretch came Feb. 12 to Pitt last season.
South Florida made 5 of 8 shots in the first 5 minutes after halftime to take a 43-32 lead. The Bulls had their largest lead, 48-36, with 12:19 remaining when Toarlyn Fitzpatrick hit a 3-pointer.
But the Wildcats, helped by seven straight points from JayVaughn Pinkston, scored the next nine points to pull within 48-45 with 9:03 left.
The Bulls responded, though, as Poland scored seven during a 9-2 run over the next 2:50, capped by a 3-pointer that made it 57-47 with 5:49 left. And it was 60-49 with 5:07 left when Victor Rudd converted a dunk after a pretty no-look pass from Blake Nash.
Villanova never got within double-digits the rest of the way.
The Wildcats shot 19-for-51 (37.3 percent) from the field and 4-for-20 (20 percent) from the arc, while South Florida was 24-for-52 (46.2) and 6-for-15 (40.0).
USF outrebounded the Wildcats 38-26.
Wayns and Dominic Cheek were benched at the start of the game, just the second time each didn't start this season, due to a minor issue in practice, according to a Villanova spokesperson.
The Wildcats took their biggest lead early in the game when they scored 12 of the first 16 points to go up 12-4 on Wayns' 3-pointer seven minutes into the contest. USF took its first lead on Nash's 3-pointer with 5 minutes left in the period and took its largest lead, 23-19, with 4:22 remaining on Rudd's three-point play that capped a 12-2 spurt over 4:14.
The Bulls finished the half up 27-25.
Both teams struggled in the opening 20 minutes from the field, combining to shoot 19-for-49 (38.8 percent) overall and 4-for-12 (33.3 percent) from the arc.
It was the second straight win over Villanova for the Bulls, who came back from a 16-point halftime deficit to defeat the Wildcats 70-69 in the first round of the Big East tournament last season.
Updated January 5, 2012