Eric Paschall had 25 points and Phil Booth added 23 as the Villanova Wildcats defeated the visiting No. 24 St. John’s Red Storm 76-71.
Shamorie Ponds had 23 points and L.J. Figueroa added 14 for the Red Storm (14-2, 2-2 Big East). The loss came the day after St. John’s made its first appearance in the Top 25 since 2015, which followed its first win over Georgetown in 15 years.
The Wildcats (12-4, 3-0), who began the preseason ranked No. 9 but suffered a pair of back-to-back losses in December to fall out of the rankings entirely, did not take their first lead until midway through the second half and still trailed by five with four minutes left before going on a 10-0 run sparked by back-to-back Booth 3-pointers.
Booth finished the game with six 3-pointers on 11 attempts and added seven rebounds in the effort.
Justin Simon added 13 points for the Red Storm, who shot just 43 percent from the field despite a hot start.
St. John’s claimed a 39-34 halftime lead as it relied on its outside game and some stifling defense. The Red Storm shot 50 percent from the field — and 43 percent from 3-point range — in the first half, while holding the Wildcats to just 43 percent shooting. St. John’s led by as much as 13 and was ahead by double-figures on three occasions in the first half, but Villanova used a mini-run at the end of the half to keep it close.
What was expected to be a physical matchup between two good East Coast teams was anything but early on, as the teams combined for just eight fouls and five free-throw attempts in the first half.
Ponds had 15 points at the break to lead St. John’s, and Figueroa added nine. Paschall had 17 at halftime, including three 3-pointers, and Booth added eight for the Wildcats, but no other Villanova player had more than four points in the first half.
—Field Level Media