St. Joe's gives up career-high 34 points to JeQuan Lewis in loss to VCU

USA Today Images

St. Joe's gives up career-high 34 points to JeQuan Lewis in loss to VCU


RICHMOND, Va. -- JeQuan Lewis scored a career-high 34 points with nine 3-pointers, Justin Tillman added 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double, and VCU beat Saint Joseph's 91-81 on Tuesday night to win its seventh straight.

“Lewis was a senior in a game that they needed,” St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli said. “That wasn’t a walk in the park, and there were a lot of people who assumed how could we hang around. But they needed 91 to beat us and he was a big reason they got it.”

The Rams led by 11 points early in the second half, but the Hawks closed to 57-54 on Charlie Brown's 3-pointer. Later, VCU's lead was cut to 82-76 with 1:01 left but Saint Joseph's got no closer as the game became a free-throw shooting contest.

It's the fifth straight defeat for the Hawks, who lost leading scorer Lamarr Kimble to a season-ending fracture in his left foot in Saturday's 87-76 loss to Massachusetts. Saint Joseph was also without Shavar Newkirk, who suffered a torn ACL on December 30 after leading SJU with a career-best 20.3 scoring average.

“We’re now in last place in this league and that’s not what this program is built on,” Martelli said. “At the end of the day, people won’t look at the score and say, 'That’s a shame, St. Joe’s is without four players.' We’re 10-15 and it’s all of our records. We did the same thing last week at Dayton and left some plays mentally out there.

“We’ve got to get better. We’ve got five games left and we’re not canceling the season. No one’s feeling sorry for us, nor do we expect them to.”

Lewis' 3-pointer put VCU up for good 47-44 late in the first half and the Rams led 48-44 at halftime.

Doug Brooks scored 12 and Samir Doughty 10 for the Rams (21-5, 11-2 Atlantic 10), who have won 10 straight at home.

Clover scored 21 for Saint Joseph's (10-15, 3-10), who are on their longest losing streak since a nine-game skid in January 2011.

“I can’t fault the effort, but it’s the execution. They’ve got older guys and, really, the better guys won,” Martelli said.

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

USA Today Images

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name. 

And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job. 

Just don’t expect Wright to be interested. 

The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there. 

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely. 

The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13. 

The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright. 

Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

USA Today Images

Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

Villanova is losing its second star player in two days. 

Guard Jalen Brunson has decided to hire an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft, he wrote in a letter to Nova Nation on ESPN. He will forego his senior season at Villanova after an incredible college career. 

This news comes a day after his teammate Mikal Bridges announced he will also head to the NBA draft.

“It is with great honor and privilege that I have called Villanova University my home for the past three years,” Brunson wrote in ESPN. “When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship. While I pride myself on remaining disciplined and focused to achieve these goals, I have grown as a man and have established lifelong relationships with my teammates, classmates, members of the basketball staff, fellow student-athletes and the wonderful educators and administrators of this prestigious university.”

Brunson leaves Villanova as one of the greatest players in Wildcats history, helping lead Villanova to its second national championship in three years. 

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. Brunson was named the Big East Player of the Year and was the Wooden Award and Naismith Award winner this season.