St. John’s dropped its second meeting of the year versus the defending national champions. Villanova defeated St. John’s 92-79 at the Wells Fargo Center. A 14-0 run from St. John’s helped trim the margin, but the early and large deficits were the story of the game.
This game seemed over from the start as St. John’s failed to show any sign of early life. The Red Storm started the game 0-for-12 from the floor, failing to score for the first 7 and a half minutes of the game. Perhaps the epitome of St. John’s offense was the air-balled, wide-open, midrange jumper? Or perhaps it was the wedgied three? Nothing was falling.
Then there was a pulse. Marcus LoVett scored on a breakaway layup and St. John’s got on the board. But LoVett was the only player that showed up in the first half, scoring 13 of the team’s 28 points. Despite just a 46-28 lead for Villanova, the first half was a lot uglier than the score would indicate.
Villanova led 16 to 2 until LoVett connected on a three. In addition to the poor shooting, St. John’s seemed overwhelmed. Their turnovers were uncanny: a back court violation, traveling after teammates collided on rebounds, etc. However, their ability to force turnovers got them back in the game.
They forced the national champions to turn the ball over five times over the stretch of six possessions to end the first half. They then started the second half on a 9-2 run—a 23-6 run dating back to the first half—and cut the lead to as little as nine.
Their disruptive defense led to Villanova committing more turnovers than St. John’s throughout most of the game. However, foul trouble never gave the Johnnies a chance. Bashir Ahmed fouled out with 8 minutes left in the game. Ponds was in foul trouble all game and picked up his fourth foul just seconds into the second half. Ponds finished with 15 points, a majority of them coming during the garbage time.
LoVett finished with a team-high 23 points and 6 assists. Ahmed added 15 alongside 7 rebounds. Josh Hart had a game-high 26 points and 9 rebounds for Villanova; Donte DiVincenzo had 20.
Despite an impressive comeback, the deficit was too big too overcome—especially with their leading scorer in foul trouble all game. Villanova wins its 11th straight meeting against the Johnnies.
St. John’s drops to 11-14 overall, 5-7 in BIG EAST play. They host Seton Hall on Feb. 11 at Madison Square Garden.