St. John’s pulled off the unthinkable as they knocked off their second Top 5 opponent in a row with a 79-75 win over top-ranked Villanova.
- St. John’s Red Storm 79 (12-13, 1-11)
- Villanova Wildcats 75 (22-2, 9-2)
- NCAA, Big East, Final
- Wells Fargo, Philadelphia, PA
Tonight’s win was also St. John’s first over an AP No. 1 team since beating Georgetown on January 26, 1985.
And it was St. John’s first win over an AP No. 1 team while being unranked since beating Duke on December 30, 1978. https://t.co/1L5FOww2z2
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) February 8, 2018
Once again, it was Shamorie Ponds that led the way for the Red Storm as he had 26 points, five rebounds, five assists, and a pair of steals in the victory. But, Ponds had extra help on Wednesday as four Red Storm players out of the six that played scored in double figures. Ponds needed 20 shots to get the 26 points, but he has now scored 25 or more points in three straight games.
When Justin Simon is reaching triple-double territory, that’s when you know the Red Storm are on their game from an offensive standpoint. The sophomore guard had 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals and nine of his 16 points came in the second half.
The key for this St. John’s offense was getting to the basket and not taking many shots from beyond the arc. In total, the Red Storm took just 15 threes (made six of them), but they shot 49.1 percent for the game (55.6 percent in the first half). Plus, they were able to get to the free throw line early and often (19-for-24). In fact, they doubled Villanova’s attempts at the line for the game.
While the Red Storm have been known to allow their fair share of three-pointers this year, Villanova had an off night from beyond the arc as they made just eight of their 33 attempted trifectas (2-for-18 in the second half). So, while St. John’s only forced eight turnovers, their defense still had an impact on this game in other ways.
For the second time in Big East play, Villanova has scored under 80 points. Both of those times have come against St. John’s. Yes, the Wildcats were without Eric Paschall (concussion), but give credit to the Red Storm defense for holding star point guard Jalen Brunson to 28 points (20 in the second half) on 21 shots and for preventing Donte DiVincenzo from making a single three-point shot.
As for some of the X-factors on the St. John’s offense, Marvin Clark II found a way to be efficient in the frontcourt. While he only took eight shots, he did make five of them and finished with 15 points. With the Red Storm lead down to one with 1:26 left, it was Clark II’s three-point play that extended the lead to four.
— St. John's BBall (@StJohnsBBall) February 8, 2018
Since St. John’s only had six players see the floor against a national title contender, this is a great win for Chris Mullin as he tries to get the program going in the right direction. Yes, the Red Storm aren’t fully back to prominence yet, but these are wins that can go a long way to changing the national opinion of a program that just came off of a long losing streak.
An NCAA Tournament berth is out of the question, barring a Big East conference tournament win. However, St. John’s is playing spoiler to some of the giants of the sport and are proving to be a tough out each and every night in conference play.
The effort this team has given against some of the top teams in the Big East has finally led to wins for Mullin and his players.