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No. 3 Villanova beats St. John’s 70-57

Marquette v Villanova

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 07: Donte DiVincenzo #10 of the Villanova Wildcats dunks against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half at Wells Fargo Center on January 7, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) Redshirt freshman guard Dante DiVincenzo had a season-high 19 points and No. 3 Villanova pulled away to a 70-57 victory over St. John’s on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Mikal Bridges had 12 points and Josh Hart added 11 points for the Wildcats (17-1, 5-1 Big East), who started the season with a 14-game winning streak. The defending national champions have won 23 of their last 24 games.

Freshman Shamorie Ponds had 13 points for the Red Storm (8-11, 2-4), who have lost four straight overall and 10 in a row to Villanova.

Villanova had trouble shooting early in the game, missing eight of its first nine 3-point attempts. DiVincenzo changed that by making three of the Wildcats’ 21 3-point attempts in the game.

The Wildcats didn’t start pulling away until the final 7 minutes. A 7-0 run capped by a 3 by Kris Jenkins gave Villanova a 60-48 lead with 4:56 to play.

The lead got as high as 17 points.

Villanova finished with a 41-23 rebound advantage but the Wildcats had an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers that the Red Storm turned into 20 points.

BIG PICTURE:

Villanova: Phil Booth (left knee) has played three games this season and none since Nov. 17, and there is no time table for his return. The junior guard was a key player in Villanova’s run to the national championship last season. ... The Wildcats entered the game ranked in the top four in the Big East in every offensive statistic. ... Villanova lost its last game at Madison Square Garden, the Big East Tournament championship to Seton Hall.

St. John’s: The freshmen backcourt of Ponds (17.5) and Marcus LoVett (17.6) are second in the Big East in combined scoring behind only Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington (18.9) and Desi Rodriguez (16.4). ... Ponds and LoVett only trail Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox (16.7) and Malik Monk (21.7) among freshmen guard combinations in Division I. ... The Red Storm have two three-game winning streaks and one two-game streak to account for their eight wins.

UP NEXT:

Villanova: The Wildcats host Seton Hall on Monday as part of the Big East’s five-game marathon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

St. John’s: The Red Storm host DePaul on Monday as part of the Big East’s five-game marathon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.