The game started slowly for both teams, but quickly escalated into a fast-paced and fairly high scoring game, ending with a 86-72 victory for the Wildcats. It was easily the most closely contested game of the season for 'Nova, and the first time this season that they have allowed one of their opponents to shoot above 37% from the field for the game (St. Joe's hit 45.3% of their shots).
The Villanova Wildcats first found their mark on offense through their intensity on the defensive end of the floor. Part of the slow start may be because Daniel Ochefu played very sparingly in the first half, picking up 3 fouls in the first 9 and a half minutes of the game.The flood gates started to open for the 'Cats when their outside shots finally started falling about mid-way through the first half. Villanova's offense did in fact look Golden State Warriors-esque (as the announcers alluded to during the game) during stretches, as they took quality shots on almost every possession due to fantastic ball movement and dribble drive penetration. Overall, the Wildcats were 8-19 from 3-point range in the first half. However, St. Joe's, led by DeAndre Bembry's 13 first half points, continued to fight; as the two teams went to the locker room with a score of 42-32 in favor of Villanova.
St. Joe's was able to hang around for a majority of the second half, with Villanova turning the ball over more often than usual early on. The Hawks even cut the 'Nova lead to 6 midway through the second half. However, Villanova was able to find the answers necessary, as they cleaned up their mistakes and responded with a run to put the threat of an upset away for good. Much of this had to do with limiting Bembry to only 4 points in the second half.
This was a very impressive team victory for the Wildcats, with many players looking impressive. Kris Jenkins was hitting his shots early and finished with a career high 18 points along with 6 rebounds. Josh Hart was also fantastic, contributing in every way possible, as he finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. Ryan Arcidiacono continued his ultra-efficient play, adding 17 points of his own on 6-9 shooting. However, perhaps the unsung hero was Mikal Bridges, who added an immediate lift off the bench each time he entered the game. It seemed that the Wildcat offense was actually first ignited in the first half through its ability to force a few turnovers, and Bridges role as the "point-man" in the zone press really served as a catalyst. He finished with 11 points in the game, including 4-7 from the field and 2-4 from 3.
Villanova will travel out to the West Coast to have an open-practice for alumni in California later this week, as they prepare for one of their headlining out-of-conference opponents, the 6th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. That game will be played on Monday in Hawaii. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 EST.