No. 4 Villanova 79, Seton Hall 67
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) _ Kerry Kittles and Eric Eberz have come a long way since their miserable 8-13 freshman season.
The two seniors have No. 4 Villanova (22-3, 12-2 Big East) on a nine-game winning streak after combining for 40 points Wednesday night in a 79-67 victory over Seton Hall (10-12, 6-8).
It was the final game for Kittles, Eberz and four other Wildcats at the duPont Pavilion, where they’ve won 15 straight and 25 of 27.
``Freshman year was a little tough,″ said Eberz, who had 15 points and made four of nine 3-pointers. ``But coach (Steve) Lappas has really got us set on winning and now it’s a lot of fun.″
Kittles, who had 25 points and nine rebounds, said he hadn’t given that much thought to Senior Night.
``I just played my game,″ said Kittles, who holds 13 school records and is the Wildcats’ second-leading career scorer. ``We came out with a lot of intensity and tried to take them out early.″
The Wildcats used a 25-4 first-half run to build a 47-23 halftime lead. They led by as many as 27 points in the second half and made sure that Matt Couture, Nick Fragakis, Jaime Gregg and Kevin Cox _ the other seniors _ all got some playing time.
Lappas, who started at Villanova the same year as the seniors, improved his record to 75-42. His team won the NIT championship in 1994 and captured the Big East tournament title last year before losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
``It was a very emotional night for me,″ Lappas said. ``This is one of the most prolific classes in the school’s history. We’re losing about 3,500 points when these guys go.″
That’s a lot of offense, but it was the Wildcats defense that shut down the Pirates and avenged a 78-73 loss on Jan. 17.
Villanova blocked a season-high 12 shots and dealt Seton Hall its worst shooting night of the season. The Pirates hit just 26 of 79 field goals, or 32.9 percent, and committed 11 first-half turnovers.
Seton Hall cut Villanova’s lead to 14 with 14:47 remaining on a driving layup by Levell Sanders, but the Wildcats then made four of five free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
``Our team could easily have given in. It showed a lot about us to hang in there in the second half,″ Pirates coach George Blaney said.
Adrian Griffin had 22 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and five steals for Seton Hall, which dropped its fifth straight and is 1-8 on the road. Bayonne Tata added 13 and Sanders scored 12.
Jason Lawson had 12 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks for Villanova, which also got 13 points from Alvin Williams.
The Pirates were playing their second straight game without point guard Danny Hurley. Hurley, who sustained a concussion Feb. 7 at Rutgers, did not make the trip and is listed as day-to-day.