It wasn’t pretty, but Villanova held off St. John’s on Saturday for a 74-67 Big East win in Madison Square Garden. The Wildcats only shot 35 percent from the field in the win, but held St. John’s to 34 percent from the field and 2-for-12 from the three-point line as Villanova outlasted the Red Storm for the victory.
The Wildcats never led by more than nine points and through the first 14:30 of the second half, the game was within three points the entire time, but a 10-1 run catapulted Villanova to a lead they would never relinquish.
Playing in his hometown, JayVaughn Pinkston had a solid effort for Villanova, going for 15 points and 10 rebounds, and he was helped by a balanced Villanova effort that also saw freshman guard Josh Hart go for 14 points off the bench. Point guard Ryan Arcidiacono played 35 minutes and scored 13 points and Darrun Hilliard struggled to 1-for-1o shooting from the field, but finished with 10 points, as his three-pointer with a little over five minutes left in the second half gave the Wildcats its biggest lead of the game at 63-56.
Daniel Ochefu also added 10 points for the Wildcats and their balanced scoring and sound defensive effort was enough to get past St. John’s.
The win wasn’t pretty for Villanova, but Jay Wright has to be happy that his team was able to make one final push during a game in which they struggled offensively to earn the win. If three-pointers aren’t falling for Villanova — and they weren’t on Saturday, as the Wildcats shot 5-for-16 from beyond the arc — they can be in trouble, but by earning a road conference win over St. John’s it proved that Villanova’s defense can carry them to victory in some games in spite of poor perimeter shooting.
Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.
News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.
Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.
Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.
Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.
6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.
West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.
Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.