Jay Wright at the podium after his Wildcats' win over St. John's.
A combination of confidence, pace, and Villanova's permissive defense conspired to make the Garden an entertaining spot for college hoops this afternoon. An overtime game, two desperate teams trying to claw out a win, St. John's hitting consecutive shots in stretches before a hopeful and raucous home crowd.
But in overtime, the Johnnies just didn't have enough. Despite Villanova mistakes, and a hot-shooting second half, St. John's lost to the Wildcats, 79-76.
The Red Storm falls to 8-11, 2-6 in Big East play; Villanova goes to 10-10, 3-5 in the Big East.
The Red Storm can look at many mistakes of their own - issues with execution at the end of regulation time with 9 seconds left (a turnover by God`sgift Achiuwa), struggles in boxing out the WIldcats, D`Angelo Harrison's fouls, turnovers under pressure, shooting 14 for 25 on free throws - and see how they lost a winnable game.
St. John's came back from five points down at the half to outscore the Villanova Wildcats in the second half, paced by a career-high scoring effort from D`Angelo Harrison (28 points) and Amir Garrett's first start.
But a late surge by Maalik Wayns (22 of his 28 points in the second half and overtime) and Dominic Cheek (20 points, 7 rebounds) - with help from Jayvaughn Pinktson (13 points, 12 boards), James Bell (10 points, 6 rebounds), and some pressure defense - cut a ten-point St. John's lead to a tie, sending the game into overtime.
D`Angelo Harrison had a career high 28 points on 4 of 7 shooting from beyond the arc and 8-10 from the line, but fouled out with 1:52 in overtime. Phil Greene added a career high of his own - 14 points, to go with 5 assists in what may have been Greene's best all-around game. Moe Harkless added 16 points and 7 total rebounds.
Takeaways, after the jump.
St. John's did not handle the Wildcats' height well. St. John's almost won the game because of hot shooting inside the arc (nailing 75% of their 2-point shots in the second half from all around the court) and getting shots in the paint. But Villanova took 15 more shots from the field, thanks to their 24 offensive rebounds - they grabbed 46.2% of their own misses.
Phil Greene had his mojo working. Steve Lavin must have enjoyed what he was seeing as he watched from the luxury suites as he continues to recover from prostate cancer surgery. Phil Greene had a career day, and his confidence was up - waving off screens, taking shots off of the jumper. He struggled with ballhandling at times, but he looked promising.
Ok, the supporting cast looked confident all game. Amir Garrett and Sir`Dominic Pointer combined to play good defense (note that despite all the points, Villanova only scored .92 points per possession). And they contributed to the offensive effort as well - each had 8 points. Pointer added 9 rebounds and 3 assists, Garrett added 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
God'sgift Achiuwa struggled. Gift had 1 rebound. He fumbled a pass at the end of overtime. He scored 2 points, took 2 shots, drew two free throws - and the 73% free throw shooter missed them both. It was a day to forget.