Villanova Wildcats

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

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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.

Edwards leads Purdue to rout of reigning champ Villanova

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Edwards leads Purdue to rout of reigning champ Villanova

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Carsen Edwards had a career night, scoring 42 points as Purdue knocked reigning national champion Villanova out of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night in an 87-61 rout.

Matt Haarms added 18 points and nine rebounds for the third-seeded Boilermakers (25-9), who advanced to their third straight Sweet 16.

Eric Paschall had 19 for Villanova (26-10), which saw its quest for a third national title in the last four seasons end during the tournament's first weekend. Fellow senior Phil Booth scored 15 points, putting him over 1,500 for his career.

Edwards has battled a sore back and had been in a recent shooting slump, making just 7 of 23 shots from the field in Purdue's first-round win over Old Dominion. He found the bottom of the net early and often against `Nova, making 12 of his 21 shots, including nine of 16 from behind the arc.

Purdue shot 54 percent while holding Villanova to just 20 baskets on 58 shots (34 percent).

Purdue jumped out early, building a 13-point lead thanks to Edwards' outside shooting and Haarms' work down low.

The 7-foot-3 Dutchman towered over the shorter Wildcats, who didn't start anyone over 6-8. He had Purdue's first four points on a dunk and a put-back. Edwards hit five of his nine first-half shots, all of which came from three-point range.

Purdue had nine three-point baskets in the first half and a dunk by Haarms put the Boilermakers up 43-24 at intermission.

Another dunk from the Dutchman extended the lead to 35 in the second half. Villanova chipped away but the sixth seeded Big East champions did not have weapons to make it a game.

Defending champion Villanova shows its experience in NCAA Tournament first-round win over Saint Mary's

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Defending champion Villanova shows its experience in NCAA Tournament first-round win over Saint Mary's

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Villanova got off to a slow start in defense of its NCAA championship against a determined, defensive-minded Saint Mary's team that came in confident after a season-defining win.

But the Wildcats, a No. 6 seed in this NCAA Tournament after an up-and-down season, have one thing no team in the field of 64 has: a pair of leaders who have won two national titles.

 NPhil Booth scored 20 points, fellow senior Eric Paschell added 14 and Villanova held off 11th-seeded Saint Mary's 61-57 on Thursday night.

"We're growing, our young guys are growing, but we have two seniors who do everything for us, on and off the court," coach Jay Wright said. "We're just so lucky to have them."

Sophomore Jermaine Sameuls added 12 points for the Wildcats (26-9), who led for almost 33 minutes, but never by more than eight points.

"The tempo was excruciating," Wright said. "We felt going in we were going to have to grind with them."

The Gaels used the same slow pace to upset Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament, and it gave them a chance against Villanova (26-9) in a tense opening-round matchup.

Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts each had 13 points for Saint Mary's (22-12). Ford's basket in the lane after a few nifty moves got the Gaels within six points at 61-55 with 34 seconds left.

After Paschell missed a foul shot on the other end, Fitts cut the deficit to four points with a leaner in the lane. The Gaels had two more chances in the final seconds, but Fitts hit the rim on a 3-point attempt and Villanova freshman Saddiq Bey stole the ball from Ford in the final seconds to seal the win.

"We had a few games this year where we put the press on and were able to get back in the game," said Ford. "And if we get a few of those loose balls, or maybe make a three when we were down four, I think it's a different game."

Saint Mary's led 30-28 at the half, but Booth scored the first five points after intermission during a 12-3 run that put the Wildcats up 40-33. He had 12 points and five of his six assists in the second half.

"We weren't doing that bad, actually," Booth said. "It was more that they were playing very well and we were trying to match how they were bringing it. I think we just had to take it to another level, because they were playing at a high level."

Big picture

Villanova: The defending champions are in the tournament for the 14th time in 15 seasons and improved to 14-1 since 2016.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels are 4-6 in opening-round games in the NCAA Tournament and 5-10 overall. Saint Mary's has advanced to the Sweet 16 once in the modern era when it beat the Wildcats in 2010. There's a reminder of that run in the hallway outside the locker room that the players see as they walk out to practice each day in McKeon Pavilion.

Empty arena

The game tipped to a relatively empty arena, but it wasn't because nobody had bought tickets.

Fans of the Wildcats, many of whom made the 4-hour drive from Philadelphia to Hartford, Connecticut, were lined up along with Gaels fans behind metal detectors as security emptied the arena from the afternoon session.

"You worry about those things, you know?" Wright said. "We have a lot of guys in the NCAA Tournament for the first time thinking, `This is the NCAA Tournament?' There's no one in the stands."

By halftime, the 16,000-seat XL Center was nearing capacity, but some frustrated fans were sill filing in.

From distance

The game was billed as a battle between one of the nation's top 3-point shooting teams in Villanova against some of the nation's best perimeter defenders. In the end, the Wildcats finished 8 of 20 from behind the arc, while Saint Mary's was 8 of 22.

On the boards

The taller Gaels won the rebounding battle 33-29 and 10-5 on the offensive end. The Wildcats didn't have an offensive board until the second half and that led to an 11-4 advantage for Saint Mary's in second-chance points. Wright said this year's team was hurt by the transfer of 6-foot-9 Dylan Painter, but is going to have to find a way against taller opponents.

Up next

Villanova will play No. 3 seed Purdue in the second round Saturday.