VILLANOVA, PA. 12/8/2018 – The #21 Villanova Wildcats extended their winning streak in Big Five play to 25 games with a 70 – 58 win over the Saint Joseph’s Hawks at the Finn. The Wildcats have won the last seven meetings with the Hawks. But Villanova had to withstand a furious Saint Joseph’s rally to garner the win.
“This was a Big Five battle,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “A big part of the game was Saint Joseph’s not having two starters.”
Saint Joe’s came into the game missing forward Charlie Brown, Jr. with an ankle injury and fellow forward Checco Oliva with a concussion. Early in the game they showed an injured Hawk is a dangerous Hawk. The Wildcats were getting three-points, 9 of 23 on the first half, and 23 of their 30 field goal attempts were from deep. They made nine.
“We don’t choose how many threes we want to take,” Wright said about the number of three-pointers. “It’s what they gave us. They decided we’re going to give them three’s and not let them get to the rim. They did agreat job.”
For the game Nova took 43 from distance canning 13.
SJU took 11 three-pointers early making one, and were better in getting to the basket. But missed critical layups that were needed to pull off the upset. Saint Joe’s wound up making 20 of 58 field goal attempts, 6 of 27 from deep.
“Missed layups,” Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli felt were the biggest drawbacks for his team. “Their defense was going to be a challenge. You have to dribble the ball and get by them. We didn’t do enough of that.”
A 10 – 0 run at the beginning of the half gave VU control of the game. The lead grew to 22 points at 62 – 40, but SJU answered scoring the next 16 points to get to within 62 – 56 with 2:36 to play. Phil Booth answered with a three-pointer almost 6 and half minutes later.
In the second half the Villanova defense was forcing Saint Joseph’s a little farther from the basket, and eventually forced tougher shots that turned the game to the Cats. Who knows what may have happened if Saint Joe’s got some of the layups to fall?
Eric Paschall lead the Cats with 14 points and 9 rebounds while handing out 5 assists. He was one of four Villanova players who scored in double figures. Joe Cremo added 12 points. Jermaine Samuels continued to play at a high level in city series games scoring 11 points and grabbing 8 boards. Booth had 12 points and a game-high 6 assists.
“Phil created offense for his teammates,” said Wright.
Lamarr Kimble had a game-high 22 points making 7 of 19 from the floor, 6 of 9 from the charity stripe. Jared Bynum, who came into the game second in the Atlantic 10 in made there-point basket percentage. He was limited to 9 points and was 0 for 2 from beyond the arc, but did grab 9 boards. Taylor Funk contributed 10 points and 9 rebounds.
Nova can clinch their 5th consecutive city series title with a win at Penn on Tuesday. After, the Villanova will have a nationally televised game against Kansas on the road. The Cats defeated the Jayhawks in the national semifinal last year.
Saint Joseph’s will have a break for exams, and return to the court on December 22nd to play Loyola of Chicago. The Cinderella team that got to the Final Four last season.