No Sweat -- Nova Crushes UCLA, Rolls Into Sweet 16 - NBC 10 Philadelphia

No Sweat -- Nova Crushes UCLA, Rolls Into Sweet 16

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    Reggie Redding, Corey Fisher and Dante Cunningham had plenty of reasons to scream as the Wildcats celebrate another trip to the Sweet 16.

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rollie Massimino sat on the edge of his seat, rooting on his former team from behind the bench.

    No need to sweat this one out, Coach. The Wildcats had it all the way.

    Villanova had six players in double figures as they cruised to an 89-69 victory over the UCLA Bruins.

    Dante Cunningham led the way with 18 points, helping Nova reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in five years with an 89-69 victory over UCLA.

    Villanova Players Playing for the Seniors

    [PHI] Villanova Players Playing for the Seniors
    Nova's Dwayne Anderson, Dante Cunningham, Reggie Redding and coach Jay Wright talk about the big win over UCLA.
    (Published Saturday, March 21, 2009)

    Corey Fisher and Reggie Redding each had 13 points for the third-seeded Wildcats (28-7).

    Next up for Nova is the Duke Blue Devils in the East Region semifinals in Boston.

    Josh Shipp led UCLA with 18 points and Darren Collison had 15. It's the earliest exit for the sixth-seeded Bruins (26-9) since a first-round loss in the 2005 NCAA tournament.

    Backed by a raucous, hometown crowd at their off-campus home, Villanova jumped on UCLA early and hardly let up. A 19-2 run that started five minutes in put the Wildcats ahead 28-11 before the midpoint of the first half -- they never looked back.

    When Corey Stokes hit a three-pointer to cap an 11-0 spurt, the building erupted. Even some Texas A&M fans (waiting for their Aggies to play in the second game) stood and cheered.

    UCLA finally ended the run after a time-out, but Stokes hit another three and Redding nailed one, too. Dwayne Anderson's jam capped the run, giving Villanova a 17-point lead.

    The Bruins spent the rest of the half trying unsuccessfully to cut the margin to single digits. Each time it seemed they were inching closer, Villanova answered.

    Fisher threw a perfect pass underneath to Shane Clark for an easy dunk that gave the Wildcats their biggest lead of the half, 38-19.

    UCLA scored the next seven points, but Scottie Reynolds answered with another three after two offensive rebounds following long misses by the Wildcats. That possession clearly illustrated Villanova's toughness inside -- the 'Cats smothered UCLA all day.

    The combination of tight defense, physical play and excellent shooting was too much for UCLA. Villanova led 44-31 at halftime.

    It turned into a rout in the second half with the Wildcats leading by 25 at one point. By then, Massimino finally leaned back in his seat, put his arm around the empty chair next to him and soaked it in.

    Massimino coached Villanova to an upset victory over Georgetown in the 1985 national championship game. He gave current coach Jay Wright a big hug shortly before tip-off and enthusiastically watched from his second-row seat.

    Perhaps Massimino passed on some of that magic the '85 team had during its unlikely run: The Wildcats tied a school record for most wins in a season, and it was the 100th victory for their senior class.

    This was expected to be a close, low-scoring game. Unlike typical Pac-10 teams, UCLA was supposed to compete with Villanova's physical style. After all, Bruins coach Ben Howland came from the same Big East Conference and instilled a defense-first system.

    But Villanova dominated UCLA in every facet. The Wildcats had a 39-26 edge in rebounding and forced 20 turnovers.

    Villanova not only played like the more talented team they also had a real home-court advantage. The Wildcats play some of their regular-season games at the Wachovia Center.

    There were some sections of neutral fans and a contingent of Bruins supporters, but an overwhelming majority wore navy and rooted hard for their beloved 'Cats.

    The schools hadn't met in the postseason since the 1971 national title game. John Wooden's Bruins beat the underdog Villanova 68-62. Jack Kraft, who coached those Wildcats, also watched this one from the stands along with a few members of that team.