Nova’s late run ends Storm’s surge

The men’s basketball team was able to stick with the Villanova Wildcats for most of the afternoon, but they proved to be too much as the clock dwindled away and the Red Storm were defeated 74-67.

“We thought we competed well today and we did some good things defensively, but we didn’t complete the task”, St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin said. “We have to focus on improving as a team. As I told the kids competing and playing together and sustain your effort that only gives you a chance to win, it doesn’t guarantee a win. In other words you have to go out and earn every win.

The Red Storm (9-6, 0-3 Big East) went to Madison Square Garden looking to bounce back from a 77-60 loss to Georgetown. To get back on track St. John’s would have one of their toughest tests of the season against Big East rival and the No. 8/10 Villanova Wildcats (15-1, 4-0 Big East).

Saturday afternoon was game where neither St. John’s nor Villanova were able pull away from one another until an 8-0 run by Villanova late in the second half. The game was a back and forth affair with 19 lead changes and the score being ties 17 times.

D’Angelo Harrison lead all scorers with 22 points, shooting 4-for-13 from the field and 13-of-14 from the free throw line.

Brooklyn native JayVaughn Pinkston, who recorded a double- double scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, was instrumental in Villanova’s victory.

“[St. John’s] did a great job of saying we’re taking away your three’s. If you want to keep shooting them, you’re going to shoot really tough one’s”, Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “In the second half we started driving the ball and that is why we got to the foul line so much. It was a great defensive game with players playing tough; This was a good game for our guys.”

In the first half, St. John’s held Wildcats to shooting 25% (7-for-27) from the floor. While the Red Storm only shot 33% from the field (12-for-36) they went into half time with a 33-31 lead.

St. John’s was able to stick thewith Villanova for most of the second half, but the No. 8/10 Wildcats proved to be too strong and pulled away from the Red Storm with 5:12 remaining in regulation after going a scoring run of 8-0 and never relinquishing that lead.

“It was a good Big East game that came down to the wire, with punch than a counter punch”, said Lavin.  “We finished the first half strong, the second half was back and forth. Than the last couple minutes of the game we missed shots and they made shots and that was pretty much the ball game.”

The Red Storm’s next game will be at Carnesecca Arena on Tuesday Jan. 14 at DePaul.

“We aren’t worried. I felt like we played a good game today and we are only going to get better each day”, JaKarr Sampson said on the Johnnies 0-3 start in conference play.  “We’re going to go back to practice, work hard and get ready for DePaul and come back a better team.”