Villanova, PA (Sports Network) - Corey Fisher scored 21 points and Maalik Wayns added 15, as seventh-ranked Villanova raced out to a big lead and held on for a 72-61 victory over No. 24 Cincinnati to hand the Bearcats their first loss of the season.
Mouphtaou Yarou contributed nine points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats (14-1, 3-0 Big East), who have won nine straight games since their lone loss of the season on November 26 against Tennessee in the final of the NIT Season Tip-off in New York. Villanova joined Syracuse and Pittsburgh as the only 3-0 teams in Big East play.
The Wildcats led by as many as 21 points early in the second half and watched the Bearcats pull as close as seven.
Rashad Bishop scored 14 points to lead Cincinnati (15-1, 2-1), which was off to its best start since the 1998-99 team also won its first 15 games en route to a 27-6 mark. The program's best start was 19-0 in 1962-63.
Yancy Gates chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds in defeat. Leading scorer Dion Dixon managed just eight points, almost five below his average of 12.9, on 3-of-14 shooting. He missed all five of his three-point attempts and the Bearcats finished a miserable 2-of-20 from beyond the arc.
Cincinnati scored eight of the game's first 11 points, but Villanova followed with the next eight and grabbed an 11-8 edge on a three-pointer by Fisher with just over 13 minutes left in the half.
A three-pointer by Dominic Cheek near the midway point put the Wildcats up for good at 18-15. It was still close after a Dixon dunk pulled the Bearcats within 21-19 a short time later, but Cincinnati then went more than 8 1/2 minutes without a field goal.
Two free throws by Cashmere Wright accounted for the only Cincinnati points during Villanova's game-changing 16-2 run. Fisher scored 11 during the surge for the Wildcats and his three free throws with just over a minute left in half gave the hosts a comfortable 37-21 margin.
Bishop canned a jumper with 56 seconds remaining in the half to end Cincinnati's lengthy drought and the Bearcats went into the break down 39-23.
Wayns drilled a three-pointer for Villanova to start the second half and the Wildcats led by as many as 21 a few minutes later, but Cincinnati whittled the deficit to 49-39 with 13 1/2 minutes to play on a putback by Gates.
The Bearcats continued to chip away and Dixon's layup off a steal made it a 55-48 game with 10:18 left, but Villanova countered with a 7-2 run to restore a double-digit lead and Cincinnati never seriously threatened again.
The Wildcats have won 45 straight games at the Pavilion. Villanova hasn't lost at its campus facility since January 6, 2007 against DePaul...Cheek scored eight points for the Wildcats, as did Antonio Pena...Wright had seven points for Cincinnati...Sean Kilpatrick scored 11 off the bench in defeat..The Wildcats next host Louisville on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia...Cincinnati returns home Wednesday to tackle South Florida...Villanova improved to 6-1 all-time against Cincinnati.