Newark, NJ–The Villanova Wildcats made it first appearance at Madison Square Garden of 2022-23 which is also the home of the Big East Tournament. The Wildcats have found some success in the “World Famous Arena”. Since 2014-15, the Cats are now 28-3 at the Midtown establishment.
This was the 129th time that both team met in a series which dates back to 1909. The Wildcats are St. John’s most frequently played opponent in program history. Villanova has now won the last six games against the Johnnies, including a one-point victory in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals last year. The Red Storm last victory in the series was on Feb. 3rd 2021 a 70-59 win at Carnesecca Arena in Queens.
Villanova (10-10 4-5 Big East) beat St. John’s (13-7 3-6 Big East) 57-49 on Friday in front of 13,504 at Madison Square Garden, NY. The first five minutes of the game the Johnnies came out flat and gave up too many points on the perimeter.
Caleb Daniels led the way for the Wildcats with 16 points and two rebounds. Brandon Slater chipped in 14 points with four rebounds. Chris Arcidiacono kept St John’s defenders honest on the perimeter by knocking down some timely threes, he finished the game with 9.
“We didn’t do what we were supposed to do. I don’t think it was because of lack of effort. I thought our defense was good, but you got to make shots. They did a good job, for the most part controlling tempo.
The Cats had a 28-26 lead before a pair of Red Storm free throws from the charity stripe with 0.8 seconds to play in the period tied the game at 28 at the break.
In the first half, the Johnnies shot 31.0% (9-29) from the floor and 28.6% (2-7) from beyond the arc. St. John’s played tentative in the half until they started to feed the ball to guard Dylan Addae-Wusu who lead them with 10 points going into the half.
Villanova shot 34.6% (9-29) from the hardwood and 43.8% (7-16) from downtown in the first half, the Wildcats was hot from beyond the arc kept them in the game in the half. Caleb Daniels torched them from there draining 3-5 for 11 points.
In the second half, the Johnnies went on 4-0 run and started pick it up on the defensive side. St. John’s took a four point lead 39-35 at the 12:49 mark.
The Wildcats went on a 19-5 run in the half and changed the whole game around. The Johnnies missed a lot shots around the cup and turned the ball over 17 times in the contest.
The Wildcats wasn’t going away quietly and they kept in striking distance. At the 7:14 mark the Johnnies held a slim lead of 44-40 but missed a lot of shots around the glass to put Villanova away.
A mid range jumper by Eric Dixon put Villanova up, 47-46. Two crucial defensive stops and a pair of free throws by Daniels gave the Cats a 49-46 lead as the contest dwindled down to three minutes on the clock. Another short jumper by Armstrong made it 51-46. In all, it was a 9-0 run by Villanova before a Soriano put-back ended the run.
Neither squad led by more than six points until the final hoop of the game with three seconds left on the clock.
Joel Soriano scored 14 points and sixteen boards for the Johnnies. Dylan Addae-Wusu chipped in 12 points with four assists.
St. John’s outrebounded the Wildcats 39-33 for the game but couldn’t convert second chance shots.
“We came out and executed the game plan defensively start to finish. I thought our guys played extremely hard the time. You know, they killed us on the glass in the first half. I thought we cleaned that up in the second half for the most part. Really proud of our guys, really proud of our performance today.
Villanova will be on home to face Providence on Sunday, Jan 29th for an 12:00 P.M showdown on FS1.
St. John’s will travel to Creighton Wednesday Jan. 25th for a 9:00 P.M. start time.