SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Villanova forward Antonio Pena posted a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds, and the No. 5-ranked Wildcats dealt Ole Miss its first loss of the season, 79-67, in the championship game of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-off on Sunday night.
Ole Miss (4-1) finishes the tournament with a 2-1 mark, with wins over Indiana and Kansas State. At No. 5, Villanova was the highest-ranked non-conference regular season opponent in school history.
The Rebels are off until Sunday when they take on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at home.
Chris Warren led Ole Miss with 24 points on 8-for-16 floor shooting. He was 5-for-10 from 3-point range.
The Rebels also got production from Terrico White, who had 14 points and nine rebounds. White was 6-for-19 from the floor, just 1-for-7 from the arc.
Ole Miss held Villanova to 41 percent shooting, but the Big East Conference Wildcats (5-0) dominated the glass with a 41-29 advantage.
Taylor King also posted double-figure rebounds for Villanova with 10.
Villanova got 21 points from guard Scottie Reynolds, some on driving layups.
Clearly, the Rebels couldn’t keep pace with Pena, a 6-8, 235-pound junior from Brooklyn, N.Y.
Ole Miss forward Murphy Holloway had 10 points and six rebounds, but Holloway picked up his fourth foul mid-way through the second half and his fifth with 1:28 to play. Post scoring beyond Holloway was non-existent.
Freshman Reggie Buckner was saddled with foul trouble and finished with four points, all from the free throw line.
The Rebels overcame an early 8-0 deficit to trade punches with the Wildcats. After a 27-23 halftime deficit the game was tied at 36 with 15 minutes left when Villanova took off on a 9-2 run after the media timeout.
Villanova stretched the lead to 69-53 on a goal-tending call against Buckner with 3:11 left.
A couple of 3-point baskets by Warren got the lead back to 10, and two free throws by Buckner made it 70-61 with 2:14 left.
The Rebels forced a turnover in the press, but Warren was off the mark on a deep 3 that would have cut the lead to six.
The Wildcats surged ahead from there.
NEMS Daily Journal