The rematch was reminiscent of the first meeting. Villanova would get out to a quick lead and St. John’s would answer back. The Wildcats raced out to an 8-0 lead, and then Phil Greene IV would sink a pair of threes to close in. Then, just like the first meeting, it was a close back and forth game. Villanova led for most of the half, but St. John’s kept pushing forward to keep it close. One of the reasons why was the return of Chris Obekpa. He was in the starting lineup today, much earlier than expected. Obekpa was reported to being out for 10-14 days earlier this week. During pregame warmups he was hobbling a little bit on that ankle, but played through it regardless. Obekpa, a defensive specialist, was a wall in the paint. He needed to step up for St. John’s as Orlando Sanchez was going to miss the game due to the birth of his child. One of the highlights of the half include Darrun Hilliard breaking down the tough St. John’s interior defense and dunking it. There were a pair of technical fouls handed out in the first half. The first going to Sir’Domonic Pointer for hanging on the rim after a missed dunk. The second, went later in the half to Jay Wright. Villanova took a one point lead into the half.
The second half started slow, and St. John’s was actually able to take the lead. Villanova responded with a 10-2 run that was topped off with a Josh Hart three pointer. It looked like the Wildcats would build on the lead and take it from there, but the Red Storm had other plans. Whenever the Wildcats looked like they were going to getaway, the Red Storm came right back. Last time these two teams met, the Red Storm couldn’t hang on anymore and Villanova was able to breakaway. This time around, the Red Storm played every second of the game. They were on Villanova’s back at every moment. In the closing seconds of the first half, Daniel Ochefu had a chance to make it a three point game from the free throw line. He only made one of two attempts. With the shot clock turned off, and time winding down, it appeared that St. John’s would have the final shot. Greene IV would be called for traveling during the drive, and it would be Villanova’s ball. Ryan Arcidiacono would be fouled and had a chance to make it a two possession game. He also only made one of two, and it was now a three point game. D’Angelo Harrison would be fouled and take two shots. After making the first, the second was disrupted when the Red Storm was called for a lane violation. Villanova would successfully inbound the ball, and it was over from there. Hart would make one last free throw to make the score 57-54.
It wasn’t a pretty game for both teams. Villanova had 15 turnovers to St. John’s 9 turnovers. The Wildcats shot for 38.5% to the Red Storm’s 32.8%. There were more free throw woes, as the Wildcats only made 50% of their attempts and the Red Storm converted 68.4% of them.
For Villanova, Hilliard had a big game. The guard was efficient on the floor, shooting 6 for 8 en route to an 18 point performance. He sunk 4 three pointers off of five attempts. Arcidiacono had 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Ochefu finished with 5 points and 11 rebounds.
As for St. John’s, D’Angelo Harrison led the scoring with 15 points. He also had 5 rebounds this afternoon. Rysheed Jordan finished the day with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Big man Jakarr Sampson was good offensively and defensively. Sampson chipped in 12 points, 9 rebounds, and a pair of blocks.
The Wildcats come back to the Pavilion for the last time this season Wednesday night. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. and there will be a tribute to the seniors held before the game begins.