Ninth-ranked Villanova overcame some poor shooting and mental mistakes to survive with a 57-54 win over St. John’s at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats improved their record to 24-3 and 12-2 in the Big East Conference. Meanwhile, St. John’s (18-10, 8-7) had its six-game winning streak come to a halt.
After Daniel Ochefu split a pair of free throws with 34 seconds remaining in the game to give Villanova a two-point edge, the Wildcats’ defense locked down just enough.
Villanova forced a pass to St. John’s guard Phil Greene IV, who traveled when met by Ochefu at the rim.
Ryan Arcidiacono proceeded to split his own two free throws after being intentionally fouled by the Red Storm. The Villanova defense again came through in a critical spot on the ensuing possession, first blocking a three-point attempt from D’Angelo Harrison before fouling him with just 1.5 seconds remaining.
Harrison made his first freebie before committing a lane violation while purposely missing the second shot and the ‘Cats were able to hold on.
Big men on campus
Darrun Hilliard was the only Wildcat clicking offensively. He scored 18 points on 6 of 8 shooting, including 4 of 5 from three-point range. He also grabbed four rebounds.
Arcidiacono finished with 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. Ochefu added five points and 11 rebounds.
The Red Storm had three players score in double figures, led by Harrison with 15.
Philly native Rysheed Jordan had 13 points and six rebounds for the Red Storm, while Jakarr Sampson chipped in with 12 points.
Inside the box score
• The Wildcats moved to 7-0 this season in games decided by five points or less.
• Neither team shot the ball well Saturday. Villanova made 38.5 percent of its shots, while St. John’s connected on 32.8 percent.
• Villanova won the rebounding battle, 40-34.
• The Wildcats committed 15 turnovers in the game. St. John’s had nine.
• The game featured 35 fouls combined from the two teams.
• Villanova's all-time mark at the Wells Fargo Center now stands at 37-33.
Villanova continued its recent dominance over St. John’s, winning for the 13th time in the last 15 meetings between the two programs.
Despite the loss, St. John’s still holds a 59-49 edge in the all-time series.
Villanova returns to the Pavilion for the first time since Feb. 7 when it hosts Butler (12-14, 2-12) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
St. John’s gets back in action against Xavier (18-9, 8-6) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.