And early start at Madison Square Garden made for plenty of sloppy play from both sides, but the #3 Villanova Wildcats eventually pulled away from the St. John’s Red Storm 70-57 to improve to 17-1 (5-1 Big East) on the season.
Redshirt freshman Donte DiVincenzo was the star on the day for the ‘Cats. He poured in a career-best 19 points on 7-10 shooting (3-5 3FG) to go with 3 rebounds and 2 assists and did it from all over the offensive court mixing in long-range jumpers and drives to the hoop.
With Josh Hart (4-13, 11 points) and Kris Jenkins (1-10, 10 points) struggling from the field all afternoon, the Johnnies kept the game within arm’s reach for most of the afternoon.
Chris Mullin’s team shot out to an early 6-0 lead and led for most of the first half behind strong performances from Bashir Ahmed and Marcus LoVett, but their hot shooting eventually cooled off and the ‘Cats wrestled control late in the first half and never looked back.
If you’re a glass-half-full fan, Villanova did commit a season-worst 20 turnovers, at times appearing to struggle under the on-ball pressure from St. John’s. While the refs were content to swallow their whistles on some obvious fouls, the absence of Phil Booth was notable for much of the afternoon.
That shouldn’t take away from the breakout performance put forth by DiVincenzo, however. The “MJ of Delaware” gave ‘Nova Nation plenty to celebrate and looked every part a future star within the program.
Villanova returns to action on Monday night when they host Seton Hall at the Pavilion. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30pm ET.