Villanova’s two game win streak came to an end at the Pavilion as the Red Storm of St. John’s earn a 57 – 46 win. Villanova got off to a slow start and could not over come the St. John’s lead. Da’Shena Stevens and Centhya “Coco” Hart with a game-high 15 points for the Red Storm.
“We weren’t ready to play at the beginning,” said Villanova Coach Harry Perretta. “We were lethargic and slow. We got down 10 – 3 then had to dig ourselves out of a hole for the rest of the game. We are not good enough of an offensive team to get behind anybody by a lot of points.
The Wildcats started slowly on offense missing their first seven shots. Senior Center Heather Scanlon got them on the board with a three-pointer at the 15:26 mark cutting the Red Storm lead to 6 – 3. However, Villanova missed another seven consecutive shots. At the 11:00 mark Sophomore Forward Emily Suhey hit a three as Villanova trailed 13 – 6. Villanova leading scorer Sophomore Forward Laura Sweeney went to the bench with 2 fouls committed early in the half. St.John’s led by as many as 12 points as the Red Storm took a 29 – 17 halftime lead. St. John’s made 13 of 26 attempts from the field for 50%, while Villanova was 7 for 26 (26.9%). The Wildcats made 3 of 14 shots from beyond the arc. St. John’s did not attempt a three. The Red Storm went inside and out-scored Villanova 24 – 6 in the half.
In the second half St. John’s was able to maintain their lead. With 14:30 to play Villanova Junior Guard Sara Jones began a streak of scoring 7 consecutive points cutting the deficit to 37 – 30 with 13:27 on the clock. The Red Storm answered by scoring 7 of the next 8 points to get a lead of 44 – 31 with 8:26 remaining.
The inability of Villanova to keep St. John’s from getting close to the basket was a major factor in the win. The Red Storm had a 30 – 16 advantage in Points in the Paint, and was 19 – 26 from the Free Throw line. St. John’s shot 40.4% (19 – 47), and did not attempt a 3-Point shot. Villanova shot 35.2% (19 – 54), 7 – 27 in 3-Point shooting, and was 1 of 4 from the free throw line.
“They (St. John’s) break you down off the dribble,” said Perretta. “We’re not that good at defending that stuff. It was difficult for us to defend them off the dribble because we are not quick enough.”
Sweeney led Villanova with 10 point and 5 rebounds. Jones contributed 9 points. For St. John’s Guard Nadirah McKenith scored 12 points and had 5 assists. McKenith was a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line. Guard Shenneika Smith had 10 points 4 for 4 from the foul line.
Villanova record falls to 10 – 17 on the season, 2 – 12 in the Big East. St. John’s improves to 19 – 8 overall, and 8 – 6 in conference.
The Wildcats prepare for Senior Day on February 26 as South Florida visits the Pavilion.
Key Run of the Game
Villanova cut the St. John’s lead to 37 – 30 with 13:27 to play behind 7 straight points scored by Sara Jones. The Red Storm answered by scoring 7 of the next 8 points to move in front 44 – 31 with 8:26 remaining. Villanova got no closer than 9 points the rest of the way.
Key Stat of the Game
St. John’s had a Points in the Paint advantage of 30 – 16. The Red Storm was effective going to the basket which allowed them to take 26 foul shots making 19. Villanova was 1 – 4 from the free throw line.
Key Players in the Game
For Villanova – Sara Jones who scored 9 points on 4 of 6 shooting, making 1 of 2 from distance. Jones also handed out 3 assists.
For St. John’s – the Forward combination of Da’Shena Stevens who scored xx points and Centhya “Coco” Hart who also had xx points. Both players combined to shoot 12 – 24.
Point Where the Game Was Decided
St. John’s Guard Nadirah McKenith made two free throws with 59 seconds on the clock to give her team a 12 point lead at 53 – 41. There would not be enough time for Villanova to erase the deficit.
Thoughts and Musings
Villanova lost Sophomore Guard Rachel Roberts for the season with a torn tendon in her right thumb. Villanova has been hit hard by injuries over the past two seasons. This season was not as bad, but the losing Roberts has limited options available for Coach Perretta.
“She averages 8 points a game,” said Perretta. “You take an 8 point scorer from a 52 point team, that’s a lot of points. That hurt us. You need more players to throw into the game. Maybe Rachel makes the threes, it’s another option.”
This team is young and still coming together, a work in process. Losing players makes the process move along a little slower. It is not clear how good these players will be. Time will tell.
“Maybe next year if we have 5 or 6 wins (in conference) then it’s progression,” said Perretta. “It’s hard to know now.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian