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Villanova rallies past Bearcats in second half 68-53

Box Score

PHILADELPHIA - Host Villanova (6-4) overcame a six-point halftime deficit and went on to defeat upstart Binghamton, 68-53, Friday night at The Pavilion. The Bearcats (4-4), in just their second season of Division I basketball, led 27-21 at the break, and were within striking distance until the game's final six minutes.

Playing in front of more than 50 friends and family in his hometown, BU senior guard Anthony Green (Philadelphia, Pa./International) scored a team-high 12 points with four steals and three assists. Senior center Stanley Ocitti (Cambridge, Mass./International, Holland) added 11 points for the Bearcats, who ran out of gas amid stiff second-half pressure from the Wildcats.

"They're a good team and they showed it in the second half," BU head coach Al Walker said. "We defended very well in the first half, and to go up six at the break was great. But they turned it up in the second half. We gave up too many easy buckets."

After struggling to just 26% from the field in the opening 20 minutes, Villanova shot 56% in the second half, and took the lead for good at the 13:46 mark on a 12-foot jumper from senior forward Ricky Wright. That basket sparked an 11-0 Wildcats run. A jump hook from BU senior forward Jeffrey St. Fort (Miami, Fla./Monsignor Pace) pulled the Bearcats to within three, 40-37, with 8:40 to play, but BU would pull no closer.

Villanova enjoyed a 49-27 dominance on the glass, with 22 of those rebounds coming on the offensive end.

"That is a hard team for us to play against," Walker said. "They're athletic and long, and they obviously controlled the glass."

The first half couldn't have gone any better for BU, which held their hosts to their lowest 20-minute scoring output of the season. The Bearcats used an 11-1 run to erase an early 10-5 deficit, and built another lead with an 11-2 run late in the half. A Green three-pointer accentuated the latter run and gave BU a 27-18 lead with 3:41 remaining in the half. That nine-point lead was the largest for either team until the Wildcats pulled away in the game's final six minutes.

Green, who is Binghamton's leader in scoring, rebounding, assists and three-pointers, overcame a shaky start to lead the team in scoring for the sixth time in eight games.

"I think for the first time in my life I was nervous on the basketball floor," admitted Green. "We all gave everything we had, but we just didn't have enough energy to finish it off. I take my hat off to Villanova. But it wasn't like it was an easy win for them. They had to earn it. We made them uncomfortable."

Binghamton returns home on Monday to face George Washington at 7 p.m. in West Gym. The Colonials will be BU's fourth straight opponent in the top-75 of the Sagarin Ratings, and the most talented team to ever set foot on the Binghamton campus.

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