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Old 02-08-2018, 02:44 AM
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Default St John's 79 (1) Villanova 75
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – A late Villanova rally fell short on Wednesday night, as St. John’s upended the Wildcats 79-75 before a crowd of 10,900 at the Wells Fargo Center. The loss snapped a nine-game VU winning streak and handed them their second loss in 24 games (22-2 overall, 9-2 BIG EAST).

The win was the second in a row for the Red Storm (12-13 overall, 1-11 BIG EAST) over a Top 5 squad. St. John’s defeated Duke on Saturday.

Junior guard Jalen Brunson nearly brought the Wildcats all the way back and finished with 28 points. Shamorie Ponds scored 26 points to lead St. John’s. Freshman Collin Gillespie added 12 points for VU.

“You have to give St. John’s credit,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “They just really out-played us. We had a similar game against them up at the Garden, we made a couple of plays, made some shots and won by seven (78-71). It was just a very similar game.

“St. John’s forced us into 1-on-1 situations where we didn’t create any shots for each other. That’s what they do. They’re tough to guard. Ponds is one of the best 1-on-1 players in the country. It was just a good game plan by them. You have to give them all the credit.”

On a rainy night in South Philadelphia the Red Storm gained the early advantage. Five points from Justin Simon helped push St. John’s out to a 10-4 lead through five minutes of action.

The Red Storm would lead for more than 36 of the 40 minutes.

Working without starting forward Eric Paschall (concussion protocol), the Wildcats battled to find a smooth flow at both ends. Villanova regained the lead at 23-22 but Ponds helped St. John’s move back in front 33-29 with 2:23 to play in the first half. In fact, the Red Storm converted six of their final seven field goal attempts in the period capped by a basket by Simon just before the horn to take a 39-34 lead at halftime.

St. John’s converted 55 percent of its first half field goal attempts and was 5-of-10 from beyond the arc (.500). Ponds led all scorers after 20 minutes with 15 points. Gillespie’s nine points paced Villanova. It was only the fourth time this season that the Wildcats faced a halftime deficit (Tennessee, La Salle, and Butler).

Villanova pulled even at 41 early in the period before a 6-0 burst by the Red Storm – again keyed by Ponds –gave the Red Storm the edge back. A corner 3-pointer by Ponds gave St. John’s its largest advantage to that point, 50-43.

Each time the Wildcats began to narrow the deficit, Ponds scored or found a teammate. The BIG EAST Player of the Week converted a traditional 3-point play at the 5:37 mark of the second half to build a 63-54 advantage.

After making 12 or more 3-pointers in 10 of its last 12 outings, the Wildcats were held in check by the Red Storm. They were just 8-of-33 for the evening and sank just two after halftime.

“Everyone will look at those numbers but we really didn’t have many good looks – St. John’s did a good job of guarding us,” Wright said.

“They’ve got great length,” added Brunson.

Yet Brunson nearly rescued the Wildcats. He got to the line consistently in the final minutes and helped get VU to within 77-75 with possession and 22 seconds on the clock. Villanova found an open Omari Spellman on the left wing but his 3-point bid with 11 seconds left that could have given the Wildcats the lead missed. St. John’s got the rebound and two more free throws by Ponds made the final count 79-75.

“They’re as good as it gets isolating 1-on-1,” noted Wright. “There were a couple of big plays where we got the stop but couldn’t come up with the rebound.”

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Old 02-08-2018, 08:30 AM
Van Hagar Van Hagar is offline
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The fact that a sub-.500 team has beaten Duke and Villanova back to back should be all the evidence needed that there are no great teams this year, not even close. This may be the year that one of the non-blue blood programs breaks through and wins it all, like Xavier, Cincinnati, Purdue, etc.
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Old 02-08-2018, 11:13 AM
E's Army E's Army is offline
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Mullins has St. Johns on a roll.
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