St. John's

St. Joe's to meet St. John's in 2017 Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase

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St. Joe's to meet St. John's in 2017 Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase

With the matchups for Saint Joseph's men's basketball's conference slate already set, the Hawks have now added an old northeast corridor rival to the nonconference portion of their schedule.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Monday afternoon that St. Joe's and St. John's will meet on Dec. 20 during of the seventh annual Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Providence and Houston will play in the other contest of the two-game event.

“We are honored to be associated with the Basketball Hall of Fame, an organization that promotes all levels of the game," Saint Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli said in a statement released Monday. "We're delighted for our players to have the opportunity to compete against the legendary St. John's program and are looking forward to an old-fashioned Philly vs. New York matchup.” 

The two schools have played just once in the past 37 years—when the sides met at Hagan Arena in 2013, the Red Storm pulled out a narrow victory to advance to the second round of the NIT. But December's matchup will be the 58th all-time meeting between the programs.

Saint Joseph's last played at the Mohegan Sun Arena back in the 2015 Hall of Fame Showcase, losing to Florida before knocking off Old Dominion in the consolation game. The Hawks return nearly their entire roster for the 2017-18 season, including all five starters, led by the backcourt duo of Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble.

Instant Replay: Villanova cruises past St. John's into Big East Tournament semifinals

Instant Replay: Villanova cruises past St. John's into Big East Tournament semifinals

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Freshman sixth-man Donte DiVincenzo scored 15 of his career-high 25 points in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the first half as Villanova sprinted away from St. John's on the way to a record-setting 108-67 blowout win in the Big East Conference Tournament quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.
 
The 41-point win was Villanova's most lopsided ever in Big East Tournament play. Their previous biggest margin of victory was a 35-point win over Marquette in the quarterfinals in 2015.
 
The 41-point margin was also Villanova's biggest ever against St. John's in a series that goes back to 1923 and has seen 115 meetings.
 
Villanova advanced to a semifinal game Friday evening against the winner of the Marquette-Seton Hall game later Thursday.
 
DiVincenzo's three biggest career scoring games have come against St. John's -- 19, 20 and 25 points. He's averaging 7.0 against everybody else this year.
 
DiVincenzo shot 7 for 8 and 5 for 6 from three and added five rebounds and four assists off the bench.
 
Kris Jenkins added a season-high 24 points with six assists and three rebounds, Jalen Brunson had 14 points and five assists and Josh Hart contributed 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
 
With sophomore Mikal Bridges ill and unable to play beyond the first minute, freshman Dylan Painter played a career-high 21 minutes and had career highs of 10 points and six rebounds. Painter, averaging 0.5 points per game, made all three of his field goals and all four of his foul shots.
 
Sophomore Eric Paschall, a transfer from nearby Fordham, added 17 points and five points off the bench.
 
St. John's lost by 41 points despite shooting 48 percent from the field and 41 percent from three.
 
The 108 points are the most 'Nova has ever scored in a Big East Tournament game. They beat Pitt 96-93 in overtime in 1998.
 
What it means
Villanova improved to 29-3 and St. John's fell to 14-19.
 
Villanova has won 15 straight games over St. John's going back to an 81-68 loss at the Wells Fargo Center in 2011 and is 21-1 in its last 22 games against the Red Storm.
 
The Wildcats are now 4-4 all-time vs. St. John's in the Big East Tournament, including a 4-1 mark over the last 30 years. St. John's last tourney win over 'Nova came in 2000.
 
Stat of the day
Villanova did not commit a foul in the first half.
 
Sick bay
Bridges started the game but left after only one minute with a stomach ache. He didn't return. Bridges is fourth on the Wildcats at 10.6 points per game, third with 4.8 rebounds and third with 2.1 assists.
 
Turning point
The Wildcats led 12-8 five minutes into the game before a basket by Jenkins, a jumper and three by Hart and an acrobatic reverse layup by Jalen Watkins gave Villanova a 9-0 run and 13-point lead. The rout was on.
 
By the numbers
The Wildcats' first foul was committed by Darryl Reynolds 1:42 into the second half. ... Villanova's bench shot 16 for 18 for 52 points. ... Bashir Ahmed led St. John's with 12 points. ... Villanova's previous biggest blowout over St. John's was 37 points -- 105-68 two years ago.
 
What's next
Villanova is back in action at 6:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of the game at 2:30 p.m. Thursday between 4-seed Marquette and 5-seed Seton Hall. Villanova beat Marquette by 12 in January at the Wells Fargo Center and lost by two in Milwaukee two weeks later. Villanova beat Seton Hall by 30 at the Pavilion and by 22 in Newark in February.

Kris Jenkins finds form off bench in Villanova's win over St. John's

Kris Jenkins finds form off bench in Villanova's win over St. John's

It was only a one-game thing, Jay Wright insisted.

With Kris Jenkins struggling, Wright opted to start Eric Paschall in his star senior’s place for Saturday night’s game against St. John’s.

And the Villanova coach was thrilled to see how Jenkins responded with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists in the fourth-ranked Wildcats’ 92-79 win over St. John’s on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

“I thought he was great,” Wright said. “Exactly how we wanted him to play. Looking at his line, I thought he had more assists than that. He got rebounds, got to the foul line, played great defense. We started him in the second half.

“All we wanted to do was get his head clear and get him going. He was awesome. He’ll start the next game.”

No one needs to be reminded how instrumental Jenkins is to Villanova’s success. Along with Josh Hart and Darryl Reynolds, he’s part of the winningest class in program history. And, of course, he hit one of the greatest shots in NCAA Tournament history to lift the Wildcats to last year’s national championship.

But the senior hit a rare cold patch recently, scoring only two points in a 74-72 loss to Marquette on Jan. 24 and following that up with two more single-digit scoring games (eight vs. Virginia last Sunday and six at Providence on Wednesday), shooting a combined 4 for 29 in that stretch.

That led to Jenkins not starting Saturday for only the second time this season.

“I just wanted him to come off the bench firing,” Wright said. “I wanted him offensively to be really aggressive.”

Jenkins didn’t stay on the bench long, coming into the game just three minutes into the contest. By then, the Wildcats already had a lead they would not relinquish with Donte DiVincenzo then helping ’Nova jump out to a 24-5 advantage midway through the first half, scoring 11 points during one minute-and-a-half stretch.

The game was never particularly close again, although when St. John’s had a big run to start the second half, it was Jenkins who responded with a few big points to help stem the tide, scoring 10 of his 15 points after the break.

“The start of the second half I thought he was great,” Wright said. “I love how he started.”

Hart, Jenkins’ partner-in-crime, also had a big second half with 16 points after halftime. It was a fitting Wells Fargo Center sendoff for the two seniors, who led Villanova to wins in all four games they played in the Sixers’ home this season.

“I didn’t even realize it was my last one here,” Hart said. “It went by quick. Whenever you play in an arena like this, it’s always amazing.”

As Jenkins’ recent slump shows, as well as the season-high 23 turnovers Villanova committed Saturday vs. St. John’s, Wright knows there’s still “a lot of room for improvement” in the final two months of the season.

But like Hart, the ’Nova coach enjoyed getting one more chance this season to play in front of a huge crowd at the Wells Fargo Center, before the Wildcats return to campus for the first time in three weeks to face Georgetown at the Pavilion on Tuesday.

“We love playing here, we really do,” Wright said. “The atmosphere is amazing. It’s a unique combination with the student body on both ends of the floor and then you get all the Philadelphia basketball fans with Villanova fans. I don’t know if anywhere else in the country you get this environment in a pro arena.

“I really think it’s one of the special environments in college basketball.”