STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Scottie Reynolds scored a career-high 40 points to lead Villanova to a 78-74 win over Connecticut Wednesday and improve the Wildcats' chances for an NCAA tournament bid.
The 40 points is the most ever scored against the Huskies at Gampel Pavilion. Jackson State's Lindsay Hunter had 39 in an NIT game in 1993.Villanova (20-9, 8-7 Big East) is assured of finishing at least .500 in league play.Reynolds, the leading candidate for the league's rookie of the year, hit six 3-pointers including two in a 10-0 run early in the second half that gave Villanova a 12-point lead. Reynolds' previous best was 27 against Notre Dame on Jan. 17.Jeff Adrien and Jerome Dyson each had 20 points for UConn (17-12, 6-9), which fought back to make it a one-point game late.Reynolds scored 20 first-half points to stake Villanova to a 33-27 lead at the break. After UConn's Marcus Johnson scored the first four points of the second half, Reynolds took over again, hitting a pair of 3s and a layup to stretch the lead to 43-31.But UConn rallied. When Hasheem Thabeet hit a foul shot with 2:27 remaining, the Huskies trailed 65-64.Curtis Sumpter then made a big putback on the other end and Reynolds hit a reverse layup, driving by the 7-foot-3 Thabeet to extend the lead back to five.Sumpter had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats.Reynolds fouled out with 40 seconds left, but Shane Clark hit two key free throws with six seconds remaining to secure the win.Villanova committed 31 fouls, but UConn converted on just 24 of 44 free throw attempts.Connecticut scored on a Thabeet tip-in a minute into the game and then went over four minutes without a bucket, allowing Villanova to jump out to an 8-2 lead.The Huskies were 9-of-33 from the floor in the first half, and shot 36 percent from the field for the game.Villanova shot just 40 percent, 34 in the first half, but used a 14-4 run to take a 28-19 lead with five minutes to go before the break.The Huskies responded with an 8-0 run, but Reynolds scored the next five points.