December 19, 2020 –
The game was hastily arranged. The teams were to meet earlier in the season, but Saint Joseph’s had to pause activities. Villanova was scheduled to meet Virginia in Madison Square Garden, but that game had to be cancelled. The Hawks just played two days earlier, but want to play anywhere, anytime. Hence, Villanova vs. Saint Joseph’s at the Pavilion on Saturday night. The important thing was that the game was played.
In the contest the #7 Wildcats behind a huge second half surge won 88 – 68 over the Hawks, a season-high for Nova.
Despite playing with a broken nose suffered in the previous game against Butler, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the way for the Wildcats with a game-high 25 points making 8 of 14 from the floor and 7 of 10 from the line.. He added 7 rebounds. Playing with a protective mask was no stranger to Robinson-Earl.
“I’ve broken my nose before in eight grade, so the mask I was wearing today was from eighth grade, and one I’ve worn before,” said Robinson-Earl. “It’s different, but you’re so concentrated on the task at hand it doesn’t really bother you as much as it might look.”
A Villanova – Saint Joe’s game is expected to be scrappy, and this lived up to the billing for thirty minutes. The Wildcats held a 60 – 50 lead with just over 12 minutes to play. Nova would end it as the undermanned SJU team would start to miss three-point shots and not get rebounds. It lead to a 24 – 7 run for Villanova and decide the game.
Early in the game the choppy play forced the contest to be decided by the little things that fell in the direction of the Cats who would use the offensive glass to earn a 12 – 2 edge in second chance points. It also kept the Hawks from getting into a flow.
“It was good because they get out and run really well,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright about how the boards benefitted the Cats. “If you can put some pressure off the offensive glass it can slow them down a little. We were not running with them and scored 88 points. Even if you don’t get it, if you’re battling for it, that’s helpful.”
With defense dictating the game especially in the first half Nova would make Saint Joe’s pay for their mistakes getting a 21 – 4 advantage in points off turnovers. Then came the run.
“We are learning how to be a more mature offensive team,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Billy Lange. “In our moments of immaturity against a really good team, that’s punishing. That’s what Villanova did to us. But there are a lot of good takeaways from tonight.”
Three other players scored in double figures for Villanova. Caleb Daniels scored 19 points, Justin Moore had 18, and Jermaine Samuels contributed 12. Moore handed out 7 assists and grabbed 6 rebounds. Samuels 8 rebounds.
Jordan Hall and Taylor Funk led Saint Joseph’s in scoring with 17 points each. It was a career-high for Hall a freshman from Wildwood, NJ. Leading SJU scorer Ryan Daly was held to 11 points.
The Hawks (0 – 4) will head to Knoxville to play #10 Tennessee on Monday night. Their fourth game against a nationally ranked opponent. A quick turnaround, but Lange will have the team play anytime, anywhere.
We want to compete at the highest possible level so we can be,” Lange said.
Villanova (7 – 1) has a game with Marquette on Wednesday before getting time off with the postponement of the St. John’s game. A physical and mental break for the Wildcats.
Written By: Glenn Papazian