PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/1/2015 – Usually a Big Five game has a tough minded, grind it out character about it especially on the defensive end of the floor. This game had that aspect but this time on offense, and the #8/7 Villanova Wildcats won their 11th straight city series game with an 86 – 72 win over the Saint Joseph’s Hawks at the Hagan Arena. Villanova Coach Jay Wright was pleased with what his team was executing on offense.
“We were mixing it up,” said Wright. “It didn’t look great, but I was very pleased in what we were trying to do.”
For the game the Wildcats made 31 of 62 from the floor (50%) and made 11 of 31 three-point shots. It was a much better percentage for Nova in the first half as they made 8 of 19 from deep.
In the opening Villanova got a lead by going on a 16 – 6 run to take a 31 – 17 lead with just under 6 minutes to play to halftime. Saint Joseph’s did not go away and got to within 54 – 49 by going on 12 – 2 run six minutes into the second half. But the Wildcats had answers. A three-pointer by Ryan Arcidiacono, one of his three from beyond the arc, stabilized the Wildcats who got the lead back to double digits.
“When that happened I looked at our leader, and that was Ryan,” Josh Hart said about the influence of Arcidiacono in those situations. “When teams go on those runs, at times of adversity, he is our leader. He has that ready to go attitude. He made that shot and jump started us.”
Villanova had four players score in double figures led by Kris Jenkins and Hart who had 18 points. Arcidiacono scored 17 points making 6 of 9 from the floor. Jalen Brunson handed out a team-high 5 assists. Mikal Bridges added 11 points.
“We’re going to have to be more aggressive defensively,” Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli said. “We need to make a team like that more uncomfortable on offense.”
DeAndre’ Benbry scored a team-high 17 points for the Hawks making 8 of 18. He was held without a point over the last 13-plus minutes of the game and did not get to the foul line. Shevar Newkirk scored 13 points while handing out a career-high 9 assists and committed no turnovers. For the game the Hawks shot 45.3% (29 – 64) and 33.3% from distance (6 – 18).
The Wildcats improve to 7 – 0 on the season and are 1 – 0 in the Big Five. They take the floor on December 7 at the Pearl Harbor Invitational against Oklahoma. The seniors continue a streak of wins in the Big Five, and played their last game at the Hagan Arena.
“It’s always crazy, this environment,” said Arcidiacono. “Coach has us well prepared for what they are doing. I am going to miss it. It was fun, a great game, and I was happy to come out of here with a win. This is a tough place to play.”
The Hawks are 4 – 2 and 0 – 1 in the City Series. They will prepare for a Friday game at Columbia. Saint Joe’s had an opportunity, but just could not overcome Nova.
“Their intangibles are off the chart,” said Martelli. “They play fierce and that’s what they did.”
“There was a canvas in front of us, but the picture wasn’t pretty enough.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian