Villanova Advances to Semifinals over St. John's
New York, NY---The luck stopped here for the Johnnies, as they were pummeled by a well rested Villanova Wildcat team, who are in pursuit of the NCAA National Championship defense, handled the St. John's Red Storm very well by a score of 108-67 in the first game of three on the docket during the second day of Big East Tournament play at Madison Square Garden.
Villanova got off to a huge start by nailing a three pointer from way downtown from none other than senior guard Kris Jenkins. Later in the game, missed opportunities by the Red Storm lead to continuous three point field goals from Villanova's "Big 3" in Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Jalen Brunson. The Wildcats shot 52% from the field in the first half. St. John's really did not do so bad complimenting their counterpart, where they shot 40% respectively. The 3-pt FG percentage was where the Wildcats manhandled the Red Storm 45% to 25% in the first half alone.
Malik Ellison, who was the hero in last nights game versus Georgetown, came out of the locker room attempting a three pointer, missed, and right away, that attempt became a couple of points on a turnover by Kris Jenkins on a solid layup. It turned out worse for the Johnnies, as they simply let this game go, and could not play well enough defense against the three point attack. "I think defensively, we need to improve. I do think a lot of that will come with strength and maturity. I think a lot of people, me included, players improve a lot in the offseason. That's the best time to do it."
Jay Wright's team scored 52 points off the bench. Contributing to that massive amount of points include Donte DiVincenzo, who led the Wildcats to victory with 25 points off the bench. Eric Paschall and Dylan Painter followed up with 17 and 10 points respectively. Coach Wright said in the postgame press conference, "We have a next man up mentality." DiVincenzo was four points away from tying Kerry Kittles's tournament record back in 1995 vs. Providence. The Johnnies never had the lead in the entire game, where they were defeated by 41 points.
St. John's came into today's game on less than 12 hours of rest, which cannot be used as an excuse according to head coach Chris Mullin. "It was a quick turnaround, but that had nothing to do with that (loss) Villanova is one of the best teams in the country. So give them credit to them."
With 34 points in the paint, Jay Wright told reporters. "I felt great [about the perimeter] all year. Kris as good as a shooter he is, could be our best post-up player. Josh is good in the post. Brunson is good in the post. Part of that points in the paint come from having shooters and being able to drive the ball and get to the rim. So it's a combination. I feel good about that. I feel good about our balance."
Eric Paschall went down with an undisclosed injury tonight. He is questionable for tomorrows matchup at 6:30pm, which is still to be determined, as they would play the winner of Seton Hall and Marquette, which kicks off at 2:30pm in a few moments live from the Mecca.