VILLANOVA, Pa. – Corey Fisher scored 21 points, Maalik Wayns had 13 of his 15 in the second half and No. 7 Villanova beat No. 24 Cincinnati 72-61 on Sunday, handing the Bearcats' their first loss of the season.
Fisher had 20 points and made all nine of his free throws in a dynamic first half for the Wildcats (14-1, 3-0 Big East).
Villanova upped its winning streak at The Pavilion, its cozy 6,500-seat on-campus arena, to 45 straight. The streak began on Jan. 17, 2007, and now includes 19 wins over Big East teams.
Winners of nine straight, the Wildcats haven't lost since losing 78-68 to Tennessee Nov. 26 in the finals of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden.
Cincinnati (15-1, 2-1) started the season 15-0 for the first time since 1998-99. The Bearcats started 19-0 in 1962-63.
Rashad Bishop led Cincinnati with 14 points while Yancy Gates and Sean Kilpatrick added 11 each.
But the Bearcats couldn't get anything going offensively and finished with 23 points in the first half, the fewest in any game this season. they finished 3 of 20 from 3-point range for the game.
Cincinnati didn't seem to resemble the team which remained unbeaten as the calendar flipped to 2011. Yet its nonconference schedule — ranked 335th out of 345 Division I teams — was not much of barometer of how good the Bearcats could be.
Villanova broke open a close game by ending the half on an 18-4 run to take a 39-23 lead.
As Cincinnati misfired — going more than 8 minutes without a field goal during one stretch — the bench continually erupted on a number of fouls that were called. The Bearcats' bench had been warned a couple of times earlier in the half for arguing about calls.
Then with 2:06 remaining, coach Mick Cronin received a technical foul and promptly removed his suit jacket in frustration while being held back by some of his players from yelling further at the officials.
Less than 2 minutes into the second half, Cincinnati forward Ibrahima Thomas was called for a technical foul after complaining following a foul call on Villanova's Mouphtaou Yarou with 18:38 left in regulation.
Corey Stokes hit the two free throws for the technical and Yarou followed with two free throws for a 46-25 lead.
Cincinnati got within 55-48 with 10:18 left thanks to a 17-6 run. The Wildcats responded with a quick 7-2 spurt to ahead by 12 points. Dominic Cheek's three-point play with 7:53 remaining gave Villanova a 62-50 lead.