No. 3 Villanova beats St. John’s 70-57

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NEW YORK (AP) Redshirt freshman guard Dante DiVincenzo had a season-high 19 points and No. 3 Villanova pulled away to a 70-57 victory over St. John’s on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Mikal Bridges had 12 points and Josh Hart added 11 points for the Wildcats (17-1, 5-1 Big East), who started the season with a 14-game winning streak. The defending national champions have won 23 of their last 24 games.

Freshman Shamorie Ponds had 13 points for the Red Storm (8-11, 2-4), who have lost four straight overall and 10 in a row to Villanova.

Villanova had trouble shooting early in the game, missing eight of its first nine 3-point attempts. DiVincenzo changed that by making three of the Wildcats’ 21 3-point attempts in the game.

The Wildcats didn’t start pulling away until the final 7 minutes. A 7-0 run capped by a 3 by Kris Jenkins gave Villanova a 60-48 lead with 4:56 to play.

The lead got as high as 17 points.

Villanova finished with a 41-23 rebound advantage but the Wildcats had an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers that the Red Storm turned into 20 points.

BIG PICTURE:

Villanova: Phil Booth (left knee) has played three games this season and none since Nov. 17, and there is no time table for his return. The junior guard was a key player in Villanova’s run to the national championship last season. … The Wildcats entered the game ranked in the top four in the Big East in every offensive statistic. … Villanova lost its last game at Madison Square Garden, the Big East Tournament championship to Seton Hall.

St. John’s: The freshmen backcourt of Ponds (17.5) and Marcus LoVett (17.6) are second in the Big East in combined scoring behind only Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington (18.9) and Desi Rodriguez (16.4). … Ponds and LoVett only trail Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox (16.7) and Malik Monk (21.7) among freshmen guard combinations in Division I. … The Red Storm have two three-game winning streaks and one two-game streak to account for their eight wins.

UP NEXT:

Villanova: The Wildcats host Seton Hall on Monday as part of the Big East’s five-game marathon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

St. John’s: The Red Storm host DePaul on Monday as part of the Big East’s five-game marathon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.