Villanova vs. St. Joe’s: Wildcats Top Hawks to Win the Holy War
The 5-1 Villanova Wildcats opened the Big Five portion of their schedule against the 3-3 St. Joseph’s Hawks at the Pavilion on Friday night. Villanova was 3-1 in the City Series games last year, and even more impressively, winners of 21 of its last 23 games against Big Five opponents. The Wildcats entered the game ranked at Number 12 in this week’s Associated Press poll.
The game, which was originally scheduled to start at 8:30 PM, tipped fifteen minutes later in a move made for television (the game was broadcast nationally on ESPNU).
Fueled by a 16-5 run to start the second half, Villanova took a commanding twenty-one point lead, 54-33, and went on to beat the St. Joe’s Hawks by a final score of 71-60. Corey Stokes led the Cats with 17 points. He was joined in double figures by Antonio Pena, Corey Fisher, and Dominic Cheek, each of whom scored 14 points. Pena was the leading rebounder with 14, followed closely by Mouphtaou Yarou with 12 boards.
Villanova dressed only nine players, including two walk-ons. Neither Maurice Sutton or Isaiah Armwood were in uniform having each sustained an injury in practice (Armwood before practice began and Sutton at the very end of practice). Armwood was out with a back injury and Sutton with a foot injury. At the post game press conference, Coach Jay Wright called both injuries “freak occurrences”. Freshman James Bell saw his first action in a home-game this season (he played in the final minute of the loss to Tennessee at Madison Square Garden) scoring the first basket of his career at Villanova in the first half.
Corey Fisher had 8 assists and no turnovers to pace the Cats. Overall Villanova had 19 assists and 11 turnovers.
The Cats led at intermission 38-28, after the Hawks, coached by Phil Martelli, jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead to start the game. What was most notable about the first half was that the first foul of the game was not called until the 10:59 mark (it was called on Villanova). The first foul on the Hawks was called at the 8:21 mark. A total of nine fouls were whistled in the entire first half; 6 on the Hawks and 3 on the Wildcats. In fact for the entire game, only 22 fouls were called, 15 against St. Joe’s and 7 on Villanova.
Once again the Wildcats shooting was a cause for concern. The Cats hit 38.5% for the game, hitting 25 of 65 shots. From three point range, the Cats managed 7 of 23 or 30.4%. The Cats converted 14-19 free throws ,a 73.7% clip. When asked after the game if he thought that the Wildcat’s outside shooting was cause for concern, Coach Wright replied that he didn’t think it was yet, but it was getting to that point. He continued by saying that he has a lot of faith in Maalik Wayns, Corey Fisher, and even Antonio Pena’s abilities to knock down three-pointers, adding that Dominic Cheek has been doing a great job.
The Hawks shot 41% from the field, hitting 25 shots out of 61 attempts. St. Joe’s hit on 8 of their 23 three point attempts. Leading scorer for the Hawks was Carl Jones with 19. Villanova won the rebounding battle 48 to 34. C.J. Aiken, the Hawks’ Freshman Center, had 7 blocks for St. Joe’s.
In attendance was Steve Lappas, former Villanova Coach, who sat on press row and Eagles running back LeSean “Shady” McCoy who sat in a front row seat.
Next up for Villanova is another Big Five matchup wth the Penn Quakers at the Palestra at 7pm on December 8th. Tomorrow Villanova’s football team begins play in the FCS playoffs in Texas against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. The game will be televised locally on channel 57 beginning at 3:30 p.m.