Villanova battles back to avoid 2nd straight loss

Scottie Reynolds ends every Villanova practice by shooting free throws that simulate the score and the clock like the game is on the line.

The Wildcats call the drill, "Win the game."

That's exactly what Reynolds did in that spot when it counted.

Reynolds scored 18 points and sank the winning free throws with 4.8 seconds left to lift No. 15 Villanova to a 59-56 win over visiting Saint Joseph's on Thursday night.

"That's the greatest thing you can give a player is the ball in your hands at the end of the game," Reynolds said. "It's the best thing you can give a player."

Reynolds was fouled on a driving layup down the lane to put the Wildcats (9-1) in position for the victory over their city rival. The 87-percent free-throw shooter made the first and swished the second for a 57-56 lead.

"With that little amount of time, we're always going to put it in his hands," Villanova Coach Jay Wright said.

Dante Cunningham stole in the in-bounds pass, was fouled and clinched the win with two free throws, sending the Villanova student section into a frenzy. Cunningham scored 14 points.

Villanova trailed most of the second half and appeared on the brink of losing for the second straight season to the Hawks (4-5). Ahmad Nivins, who scored 16 points, hit two free throws with 44 seconds left to give Saint Joseph's a 56-55 lead.

Playing only two nights after No. 6 Texas beat them 67-58 at Madison Square Garden, the Wildcats took over from there and won their second city series game of the season.

"There was a period there we looked a little heavy legged," Wright said, "but by the end, we gutted it out with our depth."

Darrin Govens had the Hawks hopeful of an upset with a hot hand from three-point range, going 6-for-11 from outside the arc and leading them with 18 points.

State men

Spalding 89, Asbury 76: Spalding held Asbury to 29.6 percent shooting in the second half to turn a halftime tie into an easy victory. Chad O'Brian scored 30 for the Golden Eagles (3-8). Shannon Jones chipped in with 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Keith Price led host Asbury (8-4) with 16 points. Michael Spann and Cory Britt each scored 14 points.

Arizona's Horne apologizes for gambling reference

Arizona forward Jamelle Horne apologized Thursday for making a gambling reference in interviews after the Wildcats' 69-56 win over San Diego State the previous night.

Horne, a sophomore from San Diego, Calif., told reporters after the game that he had won a dinner bet with one of the Aztecs. But he denied that in a statement on Thursday.

"I want to apologize for my comments last night and say that no wager took place," Horne said. "I understand that sports and gambling do not mix. In an effort to be funny after a tough game, I made a poor choice of words and now realize that I should choose my words more carefully."

Horne is averaging 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds.

SEC women

No. 7 Tennessee 81, Middle Tennessee 52: Shekinna Stricklen scored a career-high 20 points as Tennessee beat visiting Middle Tennessee (5-4). The young Lady Vols (7-1), who have struggled with their shooting this season, made a season-best 50.8 percent against the Blue Raiders.

Tennessee jumped out to a 20-6 lead on Johnson's jumper with 11:58 left in the first half.

But Middle Tennessee made 13 straight shots to cut the lead to 20-19 with 6:21 to go in the first half. Tennessee responded with a 12-1 run.

State women

St. Catharine 74, Asbury 60: Erin Rogers scored 21 points, and Courtney Milam added 19 as St. Catharine's (7-7) ran away from host Asbury in the second half.

The Lady Patriots shot 50 percent in the second half and outscored their hosts 51-34.

Ellen Gray led Asbury (5-9) with 20 points. Courtney Albin had 16.