Darrun Hilliard had 14 points in Villanova's 98-68 win over St. Joe's on Saturday. (AP)
Villanova handled its first true road game of the season just fine.
The 14th-ranked Wildcats weathered the crowd and an early onslaught from St. Joe’s en route to a 98-68 victory at Hagan Arena on Saturday night in the annual Holy War.
The Wildcats (9-0, 2-0 Big 5) remained unbeaten with the victory, while the Hawks (4-4, 0-2) lost their second straight game.
Trailing 30-23 and with Hagan rocking, Villanova had to gather itself or risk getting blown away like their first trip to Hawk Hill in 2011.
The Wildcats jump-started a push at the 5:01 mark by attacking the basket and peeled off a 7-0 run to tie the game in less than a minute.
That ‘Cats used that burst to stabilize themselves and were then able to take a four-point lead into intermission. They followed that up with an 8-0 run out of halftime to essentially put the game out of reach.
Villanova outscored St. Joe’s 59-33 in the second half.
Big men on campus
JayVaughn Pinkston led Villanova with 27 points.
Senior guard James Bell had a monster double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Darrun Hilliard added 14 points.
St. Joe’s freshman DeAndre Bembry didn’t show one ounce of nervousness about playing in his first Holy War game. He scored 17 points before fouling out with 5:48 remaining in the game.
Langston Galloway paced the Hawks with 18 points.
Inside the box score
· Villanova dominated the glass after halftime. The ‘Cats swallowed up every board to turn a five-rebound deficit at the half into a seven-rebound advantage by the end of the game (45-38).
· The Hawks made four of their first seven three-pointers in the game. They proceeded to miss 12 straight to end the game.
· Villanova had just five turnovers in the game.
The victory gave Villanova a 46-25 edge in the all-time series that dates back to 1921. The Wildcats have won five of the last six games in the series.
That lone defeat for the Wildcats in the past six meetings came in 2011 when they were hammered in their first ever trip to Hawk Hill, 74-58.
St. Joe’s forward Ronald Roberts was honored before the game for becoming the 51st player in program history to reach 1,000 points in his career. Roberts accomplished the feat in the Hawks’ 77-69 loss to Temple on Wednesday.
Villanova and St. Joe’s will have an extended break for finals before facing other city rivals.
The Wildcats will return to the Pavilion on Dec. 15 at 2:30 p.m. to face La Salle. Meanwhile, the Hawks get back to action on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. when they host Drexel.