Villanova Wildcats Storm into MSG, Defeat St. John’s 90-72

The 8th ranked Villanova Wildcats returned to their winning ways by beating the 24th ranked St. John’s Red Storm 90-72 at Madison Square Garden late last night (January 6th). Trailing by 2 points midway through the second half, Villanova outscored St. John’s 38-18 over the last 11:52 to win going away. As a result, Jay Wright earned his 300th win as coach of the Wildcats.

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In the first half, the Red Storm, paced by D’Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene IV, gave the Wildcats all they could handle. Harrison scored 16 points and Greene had 11 as the Red Storm took a 35-34 lead into the locker room. St. John’s, who came into the game having lost its last two games, played with great energy and shot 53.6% from the field before the intermission. Dylan Ennis had 8 points to lead the Wildcats and Daniel Ochefu snagged 8 rebounds in the opening half to top Villanova.

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In the second half, after falling behind 38-34, Villanova went on an 8-0 run to retake the lead 42-38 with 18:03 to go. The Red Storm then retook the lead 48-47 with a 10-5 run punctuated by a Sir’ Dominic Pointer dunk. A Harrison jumper gave the Red Storm their last lead 54-52 with 11:24 left in the game. From that point on, Villanova took total command and pounded St. John’s into submission.

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Villanova, as it has most of the season, got great balanced scoring. Darrun Hilliard led the way with 21 points, 17 in the second-half, Dylan Ennis chipped in 15 points to go with 9 rebounds, Daniel Ochefu had a second straight double-double with 13 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, and Josh Hart added 10 points. Ryan Arcidiacono and Freshman Phil Booth each scored 9 points. In addition, Arcidiacono contributed 10 assists and no turnovers. JayVaughan Pinkston had 7 points and 6 rebounds, and Kris Jenkins scored 6 points. Villanova outscored the Red Storm 56-37 in the second-half. The Wildcats shot a blistering 20-29 (69%) from the field in the second half. Overall the Wildcats shot 55.7%, hitting on 34-61 field goal attempts (including 10-23 from distance). Villanova hit 12 of 16 free throw attempts, which was a vast improvement from their last game against Seton Hall. Villanova dominated the glass grabbing 41 rebounds to St. John’s 21.

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St. John’s was led by Harrison who scored a game high 25 points. Greene was the Red Storm’s only other double figure scorer with 14 points. The leading rebounder for St. John’s was Chris Obekpa with 5.

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Villanova 14-1 overall, 2-1 Big East, next plays on Saturday afternoon January 10th when it will entertain the DePaul Blue Demons, a surprising 2-0 in the Big East, at 4pm at the Pavilion. St. John’s 11-4 overall, 0-3 Big East, will return to action on January 14th when it travels to Providence to play the Friars.

Watch Villanova Coach Jay Wright’s post-game press conference in its entirety here:

[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]

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