St. John's was hoping to end their late-season rise with a resounding win over the #4 Villanova Wildcats, a team this class of players have never beaten. But the absence of Chris Obekpa - sitting with an ankle injury as a precaution - and Villanova's overall quality - equaled one of this team's worst losses against the Wildcats, 105-68.
Villanova, the top seed in the Big East Tournament, improves to 29-2, 16-2 in the league. St. John's falls to 21-10, 10-8 in the Big East.
In the Big East Tournament, the St. John's Red Storm will play in the #4/ #5 matchup as the #5 seed on Thursday at 2:30 PM against the Providence Friars in Madison Square Garden.
The game started off hot for St. John's, with the Johnnies blasting out to a 16-5 lead by the first media timeout. The Red Storm shot contested and open jump shots, taking half of their attempts from beyond the three-point line and shooting 36% from distance - with a perfect 11/ 11 from the free throw line to boot, scoring 1.34 points per possession in the half.
Villanova battled back, though, despite the Red Storm's hot shooting - and they scored 1.40 points per possession in the half.
Unlike St. John's, the Wildcats were able to maintain the pace the whole game.
A Josh Hart three-pointer tied the game at 38 with just under five minutes left in the first half, and the Wildcats never trailed from there.
Villanova had a four-point lead at the half. But through the game, the Johnnies left shooters open, the defense moving more slowly than the Wildcats' ball rotation and pick and rolls. The Wildcats took advantage of St. John's issues in the second half, starting with JayVaughn Pinkston early and then with Daniel Ochefu, and feasted inside.
The Red Storm couldn't keep up. The team took hasty shots, couldn't score on the interior against Ochefu, and star D'Angelo Harrison fouled out with over six minutes left in the game after scoring 15 points.
Villanova was led by 21 points by Daniel Ochefu and 18 by JayVaughn Pinkston; Dylan Ennis added 17 and Darrun Hilliard II chipped in 14.
Rysheed Jordan led the team with 21 points, 9 in the second half; Phil Greene IV had 16 points for the Johnnies, 2 in the second half. Jordan also had eight assists.
Sir`Dominic Pointer was held to 8 points.
- Steve Lavin found minutes for his bench, with walk-on Joey Delarosa starting, Felix Balamou and Amar Alibegovic logging significant minutes.
- Walk-ons David Lipscomb, Khadim Ndiaye and Myles Stewart also played.
- Jamal Branch sat out the game; he is day to day.
- Villanova scored 100 points for the first time in three seasons.
- Rysheed Jordan's filthy dunk was a highlight of the game for the Storm in his hometown, so let's enjoy that.