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Villanova Basketball’s loss at MSG was strange on many levels

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St. John’s got it’s first win over Nova at the garden in 17 years

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Happy Monday Nova Nation! Well, maybe not so happy given Villanova’s somewhat surprising defeat last night in NYC. The fact that they lost on the road at St. John’s isn’t the surprising part, the Red Storm are a likely NCAA Tournament team who matches up well with the Wildcats. No, the part many fans couldn’t imagine was that Villanova would blow a 19 point lead and be outscored by 17 points in the second half.

The whole game was best described by Chris Lane as “weird”. In fact, there were three things that stuck out to me above all else that made this a particularly odd night at the garden.

St. John’s crazy bad start

Yes, Villanova’s defense has improved over the past month and a half. And yes, they did a good job early of containing Shamorie Ponds. But St. John’s did everything they could to make Villanova’s defense look far better than it was in the first 14 minutes. During that time, the Johnnies started the game just 4 of 20 from the field, including 0 for 6 from beyond the arc. But that cold streak didn’t last, as Ponds hit his first field goal of the game with six minutes remaining in the first half to cut Nova’s lead to 15.

From that point, St. John’s more than doubled their shooting percentage from the field (41.6%) and made a blistering 8 of 17 threes the rest of the way. That includes three consecutive bombs from deep to overtake Nova for the Red Storm’s first lead of the game. But it wasn’t all a lack of defense that fueled the comeback, Villanova also struggled on offense. Probably because they stopped going to the guys that got them their double digit half-time lead.

Sticking with what didn’t work

The Wildcats three leading scorers entering the game were Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, and Collin Gillespie. The three of them combined to go 5 for 30 for the game (16.6%), and none of the trio made more than 2 of their attempts. Paschall and Booth were both able to get to the line late and extend the game, but I’m not sure that was the best course of action.

At the end of the first half, Villanova’s three leading scorers were Saddiq Bey (8), Joe Cremo (6), and Jahvon Quinerly (6). Part of that is because Booth sat most of the last seven minutes with two fouls, but the other is that Nova was moving the ball well and finding open shooters. That didn’t happen in the second half.

At the risk of giving Chris Lane too much credit, he made another great point on Villanova’s role players in the second half. He said that despite Bey, Cremo, and Quinerly being the reason they had built a lead in the first half, Wright limited their minutes and touches in the second. Instead of sticking with what was working, he put the ball in the hands of his seniors who had struggled all game. Instead of moving the ball on offense, Nova’s captains tried to take over the game. That’s not Villanova basketball, and it’s a big reason why St. John’s won.

Making the right decision

If you don’t follow Jay Wright’s team very often, you may think he called approximately 100 isolation plays at the end of last night’s game. What actually happened is he set the offense up for his captains and senior leaders to have the ball in their hands and make a decision based on what the defense was presenting them.

While it doesn’t happen often, this wasn’t the first time that Booth and Paschall were guilty of poor decision making. Instead of moving the ball around the offense or using their drive ability to kick to open shooters, they settled for contested threes and tried to force their way to the bucket. While they had success getting to the line (the two were 15 of 18 from the line), they were just attacking to force their shot instead of attacking to force the defense to make a mistake.

From the time St. John’s took their first lead of the game (7:28) until Ponds stretched the lead to six with under a minute to go (0:50), Booth and Paschall got the ball for every possession Villanova had. No one else even attempted a shot. The result was 1 of 6 from the field (16.6%), including 0 for 5 from beyond the arc, 4 of 7 on free throw attempts, and three turnovers. Sure there were times when the right move was to keep the ball, but far too often they should have kicked to their teammates or moved the ball instead of taking a contested deep three.

At the end of the day, many fans expected Nova to have a bad night somewhere between last night and the Big East Tournament. One game isn’t indicative of an entire season, and definitive conclusions about the team can’t be reached off one game. Hopefully they’ll be able to brush it off as they continue their three game road stretch at Georgetown.

In other “news”, Nova Patches for your Nike’s, Justin Moore’s #1, and two Nova greats return home to be honored. Enjoy!

Villanova loses to St. John’s at MSG

Three takeaways from St. John’s comeback win over No. 13 Villanova | Sporting News
The Red Storm rallied from a 19-point deficit to top No. 13 Villanova, 71-65, at Madison Square Garden.

St. John’s made the Garden feel like home again for one evening | New York Post
Finally, the Garden bared its teeth, cleared its throat and carried St. John’s on its shoulders. Finally, the old gymnasium on top of Penn Station felt like a...

St. John's-Villanova: Disaster becomes breakthrough, NCAA Tournament statement | New York Post
Break out the shoe polish. Take the suit to the cleaners. St. John’s looks as if it’s headed to a dance — the Big Dance, the one the Johnnies have been...

College basketball: St. John’s storms back to upset No. 13 Villanova | NCAA.com
St. John's helped its chances for a Big East run by upsetting Villanova by erasing a 19-point deficit in a thrilling comeback from Madison Square Garden.

No. 13 Villanova blows second-half lead to St. John's | NBC Sports Philadelphia
Up 14 points with under 13 minutes left, No. 13 Villanova faltered against St. John's on Sunday night in a 71-65 loss.

No. 13 Villanova blows 19-point lead, loses to St. John’s | The Inquirer
The Wildcats shot just 5 of 24 in the second half and watched the Red Storm come all the way back to post the stunning victory.

St. John’s Upsets Villanova Wildcats, 71-65 | Rumble In The Garden
The Red Storm battled back erasing 19-point deficit

Villanova Basketball

Ranking the Most Unstoppable Offenses in College Basketball | Bleacher Report
It's hard to defend your way to a national championship in college basketball. Villanova ranks in the Top 5.

NCAA tournament odds 2019: Duke clear March Madness betting favorite | SBNation.com
The Duke Blue Devils are big favorites to win the NCAA Tournament this season over Tennessee and Kentucky with March Madness quickly approaching.

Teams with the worst records to make the NCAA tournament | NCAA.com
Here are the teams with the worst records to make the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament since the March Madness field expanded in 1985.

Nike By You NCAA Patches | Nike News
Team-exclusive velcro patches for the Nike Air Force 1 High/Low are available for customization beginning February 20. Some cool old-school Nova patches (5th photo tab).

Women's Basketball Crushed on the Road Against Villanova | The Georgetown Voice
The Georgetown women’s basketball team (11-14, 5-9 Big East) fell to the Villanova Wildcats (16-9, 9-3 Big East) in a 91-43 loss on Saturday at Villanova.

Class of 2019

Senior Justin Moore leads DeMatha to No. 1 basketball ranking | Hyattsville Life & Times
No. 1 DeMatha had just let an 18-point lead slip into a four-point deficit over second-ranked Paul VI. The Stags needed someone to spark them or they were going to lose their second-straight game.

Recruiting Analysis Bodes Well for Friars / Big East Next Season | Yurview.com
Adam Finkelstein gives an analysis of Big East basketball recruiting efforts and the effect the recruits will have on their teams next year.

Villanova Alums Honored

‘It means the world to me’: Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson thankful for ceremony at Stevenson - Lake County News-Sun
Stevenson honored Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson prior to Friday’s 59-48 victory against Warren.

Calitro to be honored at Danbury High | NewsTimes
Danbury High grad and current Seattle Seahawk Austin Calitro will be returning home next Wednesday prior to the Danbury boys basketball team’s showdown against Trumbull.