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.