EditorsNote: revises fourth graf
Shamorie Ponds scored 26 points, Justin Simon added 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and St. John’s stunned No. 1-ranked Villanova 79-75 on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Marvin Clark II contributed 15 points and Bashir Ahmed had 10 for the Red Storm, who improved to 12-13 overall and 1-11 in the Big East.
St. John’s had dropped 11 straight games all time against the No. 1-ranked team in the country. Its last win over a top-ranked team came all the way back on Jan. 26, 1985, against Georgetown.
The Red Storm were riding an 11-game overall losing streak before defeating No. 4 Duke on Sunday.
Jalen Brunson led Villanova with 28 points while Collin Gillespie added a career-high 12. Omari Spellman had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats, and Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo also scored 11 points apiece.
The Wildcats dropped to 22-2 overall, 9-2 in the conference.
Villanova played without forward Eric Paschall, who sustained a concussion on Sunday in a win over Seton Hall. Freshman Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree got the start while freshman Jermaine Samuels also played after missing the previous 10 games with a broken bone in his hand.
Villanova was also without guard Phil Booth due to a fractured bone in his right hand, so coach Jay Wright was forced to play as many as three freshmen on the court at one time for long stretches.
The Red Storm started strong in the second half and surged ahead 47-41.
Ponds drained a 3-pointer from the baseline for a 50-43 lead with 12:47 left. St. John’s kept the pressure on and Simon eventually hit a short jumper for a 57-50 advantage with 7:30 remaining.
Villanova missed 10 of its first 11 3-point attempts in the second half, which helped the Red Storm move to that seven-point lead.
St. John’s led 65-58 with 3:46 left, and Brunson then missed a short jumper. Ponds tossed in a runner in the lane for a 67-58 advantage.
Brunson scored five straight points as he knocked down 1 of 2 free throws and followed with a jumper and a driving layup to get the Wildcats within 67-63 with 1:28 remaining. After a turnover, Brunson converted a conventional three-point play, cutting the deficit to 67-66.
Clark responded for St. John’s with a three-point play and a 70-66 lead with 1:15 left.
Villanova kept chipping away, and Gillespie drained a 3-pointer from the wing to cut the gap to 74-73 with 23.2 seconds left.
With the Wildcats down 75-73, Spellman hoisted a 3-pointer but missed off the back rim.
Clark followed with a pair of free throws to seal an unlikely win.
--Field Level Media