Villanova Wildcats

Frank Mason III wins John R. Wooden Award; Josh Hart named Julius Erving small forward of year

Frank Mason III wins John R. Wooden Award; Josh Hart named Julius Erving small forward of year

LOS ANGELES -- Frank Mason III of Kansas and Kelsey Plum of Washington won the John R. Wooden Award as national players of the year Friday night.

They received their trophies during the third annual College Basketball Awards in a nationally televised show from The Novo in downtown Los Angeles.

Mason also claimed the Bob Cousey point guard of the year award. The senior became the first player in Big 12 history to average 20 points and 5 assists in a season.

"When you step out on court you have to play with toughness. You can't be a punk out there, you have to play with pride," Mason said. "It's been a good year. I wouldn't say great because a great year to me is winning it all."

The Jayhawks were eliminated by Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament

Plum became the NCAA Division I career scoring leader (3,527 points). She also set marks for single-season points (1,109) and career free throws made (912).

Mason won the Wooden Award over UCLA's Lonzo Ball, Villanova's Josh Hart, Caleb Swanigan of Purdue and Nigel Williams-Goss of national runner-up Gonzaga. Mason had already earned player of the year honors from The Associated Press and Atlanta Tipoff Club.

"I want to thank John R. Wooden," Mason said, referring to the late UCLA coaching great. "I want to thank my parents, coaches and teammates. Nothing would have meant more to me than the national championship, but I really appreciate it."

Plum claimed the women's Wooden Award over Connecticut teammates Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell, and A'ja Wilson of national champion South Carolina.

Hall of Famer Ann Myers Drysdale presented Plum with the trophy as Wooden's daughter, Nan, looked on.

Plum set the career scoring record with a 57-point effort in one game.

"I'm grateful to the University of Washington, my coaches and my teammates. Something like that doesn't happen without great people," said Plum, adding that she ate a few packets of applesauce on the sideline that night.

"That was what got me through," he said.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw received the Wooden Legends of Coaching award.

Other winners were:

* Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski earned the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar center of the year for averaging 12.2 points on 59 percent shooting and 5.8 rebounds. Abdul-Jabbar was on hand to present to the 7-footer from Poland.

* Kentucky's Malik Monk won the Jerry West shooting guard of the year for his SEC-leading field goal percentage of 37.3 and SEC second-best 19.8 scoring average. West presented his namesake trophy.

* Villanova's Josh Hart took home the Julius Erving small forward of the year after leading the Big East with 18.7 points per game. Erving handed out the trophy.

* Johnathan Motley of Baylor accepted the Karl Malone power forward of the year award from the Hall of Famer. He led the Big 12 with 9.9 rebounds.

Villanova cruises in Phil Booth's return

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Villanova cruises in Phil Booth's return

BOX SCORE

Phil Booth returned to Villanova's lineup, and it looked as if he never left.

Booth had 14 points in his comeback from a broken right hand that sidelined him for seven games, and Mikal Bridges scored 27 points to lead No. 3 Villanova to a 93-62 victory over DePaul on Wednesday night.

Eric Paschall had 16 points, and Jalen Brunson added 11 points and seven assists to help the Wildcats (25-3, 12-3 Big East) beat DePaul for the 16th straight time.

Booth played 16 minutes, going 4 for 6 from the field and 2 for 4 from. He was injured Jan. 23 against Providence, had his cast removed Friday and practiced Tuesday.

Wildcats coach Jay Wright was pleasantly surprised at Booth's speedy recovery -- and his play.

"It's great to have him back," Wright said about Booth, who entered averaging 11.6 points. "It's a tribute to him. It looked like he never had anything wrong at practice. He looked good tonight, completely fine. It just amazes me."

Booth entered 2:53 into the contest and made his presence felt, scoring eight points in eight minutes to help the Wildcats to their 16-point halftime lead.

"It felt good to be back out there," Booth said. "A little rust but I wasn't worried about offense. My hand felt great."

Max Strus scored 21 points for the Blue Demons (10-17, 3-12).

The Wildcats had a comfortable 46-30 lead at the break. They surged to a 27-point advantage with 17:47 left in the contest by scoring 13 of the first 15 second-half points over 2:13. Bridges capped the run with a 3-pointer that made it 59-32 and practically erased any chances of a DePaul comeback.

"Our hands were down, we were late to a couple of rotations," Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao said of the Villanova spurt.

Leitao said the Wildcats have so many offensive options, and adding Booth makes it even harder to defend them.

"They are back to being whole," he said.

The game was tied at 16 after a Strus 3-pointer with 11:09 left in the half, but the Wildcats slowly and methodically pulled away.

Bridges had 15 points and Paschall added nine in the opening 20 minutes. Villanova was 10 for 14 from the free-throw line while the Blue Demons didn't attempt a foul shot. For the game, the Wildcats finished 15 for 21 from the line while DePaul was 0 for 1.

Big picture
DePaul: The Blue Demons need a victory in one of their three remaining games to reach four conference wins, which would be their most since joining the Big East.

Villanova: The four-time defending Big East champion Wildcats also have three regular-season games remaining. They are tied for first place with Xavier but own the tiebreaker with the Musketeers after beating them twice, including Saturday's 95-79 win at No. 4 Xavier.

Wright stuff
Wright recorded his 411th win at Villanova to close within two victories of tying Alexander Severance for first place in all-time coaching victories. In his 17th season at Villanova, Wright improved to 17-2 against DePaul.

Series dominance
The Wildcats have won 26 of the 34 matchups, with DePaul's last win coming Jan. 3, 2008. Villanova won at DePaul 103-85 on Dec. 27 in the other contest of this season's two-game series.

Strus for 3
Strus made three 3-pointers, finishing 3 for 9, to up his single-season total to 74 and pass Quentin Richardson for second-most in a season. Drake Diener, with 85 in the 2004-05 season, tops the list.

Up next
DePaul: Host Marquette on Saturday.

Villanova: At Creighton on Saturday.

Up-and-down week has Villanova steady in AP poll

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Up-and-down week has Villanova steady in AP poll

For the second week in a row, Jay Wright's Villanova squad endured a stunning upset and then followed it up with a statement victory.

And for the second week in a row, the Wildcats held steady in the AP Poll.

After falling 76-71 at Providence on Valentine's Day and then forcefully handling No. 4 Xavier 95-79 in enemy territory on Saturday, Villanova checks in at No. 3 in the AP Poll for the second straight week. This after the 'Cats spent the five weeks prior sitting pretty as the No. 1 team in the land.

The commanding victory at Xavier wasn't enough to propel Villanova ahead of No. 1 Virginia and No. 2 Michigan State. The Cavaliers received 42 first-place votes and the Spartans received 19 first-place votes. The Wildcats garnered four first-place votes for themselves.

Xavier held firm at No. 4 and Duke checked in at No. 5 to round out this week's top five.

March is looming and that means the Big East grind is winding down. The Wildcats, 11-3 in conference play and sitting in second place in the Big East behind 12-3 Xavier, own the tiebreaker over the Musketeers after Saturday's win. They have four regular-season contests left, starting with a home date vs. DePaul on Wednesday night. This week ends with a trip to Creighton on Saturday afternoon.

Take care of business and once again it looks like the Big East goes through Villanova, which has won the last four Big East regular-season titles.