TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Villanova has beaten three teams it should
have by hitting 3-pointers in bunches.
The fourth-ranked Wildcats, who start four guards, will soon
find out how they will do against one the best frontlines in the
The Wildcats (3-0) went 13-for-32 from beyond the arc 19 feet, 9
inches away, one game after setting a school record with 17 3s
Mike Nardi had all 18 of his points on 3s for Villanova, which
hosts No. 5 Oklahoma on Saturday, easily the biggest and most
physical team the Wildcats will have faced this season with a
frontcourt that includes Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout.
"I think that when we shoot the ball well like that, we're
tough to guard," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "I thought we
beat a good team. I like the energy we played with and our guards
at the front of our press really put pressure on people."
Then came the question of facing a fellow member of the Top 25
without forward Curtis Sumpter, who is out indefinitely after
preseason knee surgery.
"We'll have a better feel about that after Saturday," Wright
said. "Sometimes when you play mid-major teams you match up better
with four guards. I like how our forwards played tonight against
quicker guys. We need to know what we'll do against a big team like
Villanova hit the 17 3s on Sunday in 33 attempts with Ray
setting school marks with eight in 16 tries. Nardi was 6-for-10 on
3s against Rider (1-3), while Ray was 3-for-11.
"With Kyle there to help at the point, I'm off the ball more
and getting some looks," Nardi said. "I was just spotting up and
knocking down shots."
Jason Thompson had 15 points for the Broncs, who made one brief
run in the second half to get within 54-43 with 14:54 left. But
Lowry had a traditional three-point play, Ray a 3 and Lowry two
free throws in an 8-0 run that ended any thoughts of a comeback.
Villanova was much quicker than Rider and the Wildcats' active
hands in both the man-to-man and zone defense created turnovers.
Lowry, a sophomore who was 6-for-8 from the field and 7-for-8 from
the free-throw line, was the most active of the Wildcats on offense
and he was the catalyst inside when the 3-point shooters did
His three-point play that started the 8-0 run was the one
Villanova considered a key to keeping Rider at bay.
"They were making a run and we had to keep our composure,"
Lowry said of the drive on which he was fouled. "I had to make a
play and it happened to be a good one."
Nardi thought it was better than good.
"That punched the air out of them when Kyle made that play and
the free throw," Nardi said. "That gave us a cushion and we built
on it from there."
Wright said he wanted to see how his team responded when the
Broncs made the run.
"That was a big play," he said of Lowry's three-point play.
"They were extending on our shooters and we missed a couple and
Kyle took it down the lane and made a smart play for us. We took
the hit and kept building."
Rider interim head coach Tommy Dempsey said Villanova's speed
was overwhelming to his team early.
"It was a rough start to overcome but once we adjusted to the
speed, I thought we were very competitive," Dempsey said.
"We don't play the No. 4 team in the country very often. The
confidence level, the quickness, that stuff is something that hits
you all at once. Once we got a feel for how they were going to play
and made adjustments, I liked the way we played for about 30
Even though the game was played at Sovereign Bank Arena,
Villanova was the host school. It was the Wildcats' first
appearance in the building about an hour from their
Philadelphia-area campus. Rider, which is much closer in
Lawrenceville, dropped to 3-11 in the building.
The Wildcats started the game with an 11-2 run with all but two
of the points coming on 3-pointers. They mostly stayed behind the
arc in building a 33-13 lead, going 6-for-11 on 3s in the opening
They did miss five straights 3-point attempts, but that drought
ended when Ray hit their ninth of the half with 2 seconds left to
make it 46-26. Villanova had nine 3s in the half and Rider had
eight field goals.
According to Villanova, it leads the all-time series against
Rider 22-1, while the Broncs claim it is now 19-3. The schools
don't agree on Rider's last win in the series, either. Villanova
claims it was in 1944, Rider a year later.