VILLANOVA, PA 1/2/2013 – This was the typical Big East game, tough, physical, no shot uncontested, pressure allm over the floor. It seemed only right that it would take overtime to decide the game. The Villanova Wildcats outscored the St. John’s Red Storm 15 – 3 in the overtime session to win their initial Big East contest 98 – 86 at The Pavilion. The final score was no indicator of the closeness of this game as there were 9 ties and the lead changed 10 times. The largest lead in regulation for either team was 8 points. Villanova played the defense late that they needed to win it.
“We got dialed in on defense in overtime,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “We have to learn to do it for forty minutes. It was good team defense in overtime. We needed team defense.”
The Wildcats needed to be tough. Villanova played inside – out basketball, getting the ball inside to Sophomore forward JayVaughn Pinkston who scored 26 points. Once the defense collapsed inside, the ball went outside to a waiting Ryan Arcidiacono. The freshman guard scored a career-high 32 points making 7 of 11 three-point baskets. The Red Storm would counter with a career-high 36 points from guard D’Angelo Harrison who was good on 6 of 12 from beyond the arc. Harrison converted 2 free throws with 4 seconds on the clock to send the game into overtime.”I didn’t want to force anything,” said Arcidiacano. “My teammates got me involved tonight and
I was making them (the shots).”
Late in the game Sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard stepped to the fore. With St. John’s leading by 81 – 87 with 1:31 in regulation, Hilliard drew a foul to get three free throws to tie the game. In the overtime Hilliard came up with two big steals and layups as the Wildcats took control in the overtime session outscoring St. John’s 15 – 3. Also aiding Villanova was the defense in the overtime paid to stopping Harrison who did not score. Junior guard James Bell stayed close to Harrison, and when he got free Hilliard was there to sustain the defense.
“His drives were big, the steals were big,” said Wright about the important plays made by Hilliard. “He made some good defensive plays that turned into good offensive plays.”
“There was some good counter punching with each team responding and finding a way to crawl back in the game,” said St. John’s Coach Steve Lavin.”
Because of the physical nature of the game the officials blew the whistle 50 times as 31 fouls were called on St. John’s (who needed to foul at the end) and 19 on Villanova. The Wildcats converted 34 of 42 free throws compared to 12 of 20 for the Red Storm. Villanova had 11 steals, 4 by Hilliard, and St. John’s 10. Villanova won the rebounding battle 47 – 34 with 17 on the offensive end. That led Villanova to an 18 – 12 edge in second chance points. Villanova had 11 steals, St. John’s 10. The Wildcats committed 18 turnovers. Even though the Red Storm had 16, they made the Wildcats pay for their miscues by a 25 – 16 margin.
This is the sixth straight win for Villanova as they head to South Florida for the next game. The Wildcats got a win, and they will take it. The team also got the victory because they saw the value of stopping the other team from scoring.
“We settled in, got key stops, and that was the key, talking and communicating,” said Pinkston. “We did a good job.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian