Saddiq Bey scored 23 points, and Collin Gillespie added 17 as No. 8 Villanova overcame a sluggish start to earn a 79-59 Big East Conference road victory Tuesday over St. John’s in New York City.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Gillespie added 13 rebounds and six assists. Justin Moore and Cole Swider scored 11 points each, as the Wildcats (17-3, 7-1 Big East) earned their seventh-consecutive victory and remained one game behind conference-leading Seton Hall in the loss column.
Rasheem Dunn scored 24 points, and LJ Figueroa added 12 as the Red Storm (13-9, 2-7) lost for the fourth time in their past five games. Their only conference victories have come against DePaul.
Playing at Madison Square Garden for the first time this season, Villanova opened 0 of 7 from the field, and the Wildcats trailed 13-6 over five minutes into the opening half. They settled in from there and took their first lead at 21-19 with just over eight minutes remaining in the first half on a 3-pointer from Bey. That came in the middle of a 13-0 run, capped by another Bey three to make it 28-19.
Villanova led 39-26 at halftime after recovering to shoot 41.2 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes. The Wildcats closed the first half on a 24-7 run.
A 14-2 run midway through the second half pushed Villanova’s lead past 20 points at 68-44 with 8:26 remaining. Bey had seven points in the stretch, while Gillespie had five.
Vilanova finished 47.5 percent from the field in the game to 41 percent for St. John’s, which entered having defeated Villanova in two of the previous three meetings between the teams. The Wildcats had a 12-6 advantage in made 3-pointers and went 9 of 13 from the free-throw line compared to 3 of 4 for the Red Storm.
Villanova played without Jermaine Samuels, who came away from Saturday’s victory at Providence with a sprained left foot.
The victory moves Villanova three games away from a showdown meeting with Seton Hall at home on Feb. 8. The Wildcats still have a home game against Creighton and a road game at Butler before then.
—Field Level Media