The Villanova Wildcats defeated the St. Joseph’s Hawks 81-52 on Saturday afternoon to improve to 6-2 on the season and 3-0 in the Big 5. The victory marks the 10th consecutive win for Villanova over their rivals on Lancaster Avenue. The last time the Hawks defeated the Wildcats was Dec. 17, 2011.
“That is a great Villanova basketball team. I believe it’s the best team he has had in 20 years. I have a little bit of corporate knowledge, so I get a chance to say that,” former Wildcat assistant coach and current St. Joe’s head coach Billy Lange said. “It might not be overall the most talented, but because I foundationally know what he expects from every single player on both ends… to me that’s a perfect team.”
The Wildcats were led by graduate student guard Collin Gillespie, who finished with 23 points on 7-12 shooting, including 5-7 from three, while adding four rebounds and three assists. Junior guard Justin Moore added 16 points on 6-13 shooting, while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out four assists.
“I know the score looks that way, but we know the capabilities of these teams,” head coach Jay Wright said of the blowout nature of their recent Big 5 wins. “We never come into these games thinking it’s over. It’s like that because we played really well. If we’re off a little bit we’re going to get beat.”
Redshirt sophomore center Eric Dixon also added 12 points on 5-10 shooting, including two three pointers, while grabbing six rebounds. Two other Wildcats ended the game in double digits, as senior wing Brandon Slater and graduate student wing Jermaine Samuels added 10 points each.
As a team, Villanova shot 13-25 (52%) from deep, while holding St. Joe’s to just 7-31 (22.6%) from behind the arc. Particularly notable was the performance of redshirt senior forward Taylor Funk, who went 0-5 from three and was held scoreless on the day.
“Yea, put Justin [Moore] on him,” Wright said when asked if they did anything special to shut down Funk. “Justin just did an incredible job. He’s our best defender, we don’t talk about it a lot because we play a lot of good team defense, but we’d always put him on the best player.”
The Wildcats were without redshirt senior guard Caleb Daniels who was out due to a non-COVID illness.
In the first half, Gillespie led all scorers with 15 points, while going 3-4 from deep and grabbing three rebounds. Samuels added eight points, and as a team the Wildcats were 4-10 (40%) from deep.
The Hawks were led in the half by sophomore wing Jordan Hall, who had nine points and four assists, while graduate student big Ejike Obinna added eight points. As a team, St. Joe’s shot just 2-16 (12.5%) from three in the first half.
Moore opened the scoring in the second half with two three pointers, his first points of the game, to grow the Wildcat lead to 40-22. Moore made one of two free throws after drawing a foul, scoring the first seven points of the half.
After struggling in two games at the Palestra, Moore was scoreless after the first 20 minutes of play today. The first seven points of the half was just the start for the Maryland native, as he finished with two three pointers and 16 points, all coming in the second half.
“It’s something we take pride in, defending and rebounding, we’re not worried about our shots going in, I’m not worried about my shots going in,” Moore said. “That’s going to take care of itself.”
The three point barrage continued for the Wildcats, while the Hawks were unable to hit much from deep. The Villanova lead grew throughout the second half, reaching 35 at one point.
Villanova returns to action on Tuesday at 9 PM when they take on the Syracuse Orange, and former Wildcat Cole Swider, at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic. The game will air on ESPN.