'Nova Fends Off St. Joe's to Take Holy War

Villanova overcame a troublesome Saint Joseph’s team, 78-66, on Saturday at the Hagan Arena in Philadelphia. The Wildcats have now won three Big Five contests this season and with a win against Temple, Villanova would retake the Big Five crown. 

Sophomore Saddiq Bey once again led the way for the Wildcats, recording team high 22 points and nine rebounds. Junior Collin Gillespie and freshman Justin Moore also made strong offensive contributions, scoring 20 and 14 points respectively. Meanwhile, freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s five offensive rebounds (eight total) helped keep Villanova ahead. 

The Wildcats dominated Saint Joseph’s in the first half, building an early 17-point lead. Villanova shot 55.2% (16-29) from the field and 25.0% (3-12) from three while holding its opponents to only 37% (10-37) from the field, and an abysmal 0.0% (0-11) from beyond the arc. As a result, the Wildcats entered the break ahead by 16 points.

The Hawks responded with force in the second half, posting the period’s first seven points. Saint Joseph’s freshman Ryan Daly went on a tear in the second half, scoring 22 of his 32 total points. His efforts, combined with Collin Gillespie’s foul trouble, kept Saint Joseph’s in the game well into the second half. In fact, the Hawks were able to chip the Wildcats’ lead to a mere three points on two separate occasions, most crucially with 4:08 left in the game. However, Villanova was able to rally despite the intense road atmosphere and end the game on a 13-4 run. 

"A big part of their run was Collin getting his fourth foul,” Head Coach Jay Wright said. “He's our leader. We've got Justin Moore, a freshman, running the point. We were running our offense through Saddiq Bey, a sophomore, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a freshman. On the road, they really did keep their composure."

On a night where shots were not falling from deep (Villanova went 4-17, 23.5% from three), the Wildcats once again depended their ability to outscore the Hawks in the paint (46-38) and off the bench (17-9).  

Villanova’s current eight game winning streak against Saint Joseph’s, which dates back to 2012, is the longest in the history of the rivalry. The Wildcats have outscored the Hawks 653-481 in that time, winning each contest by an average of 21 points. 

The Wildcats will be back in action Saturday, Dec. 14 as they take on the Delaware Blue Hens at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.