VILLANOVA, Pa. — The positive vibes lasted for 10 minutes. Then, reality hit in the form of an avalanche of 3-pointers and an aimless half-court offense.
All the optimism after the blowout of Seton Hall quickly dissolved. St. John’s wasn’t going to pull off another upset. Instead, the disappointment that had preceded Monday’s victory returned.
Villanova rode a 16-0, first-half run to an easy 73-62 victory over the Johnnies at Finneran Pavilion on Saturday. Julian Champagnie’s shooting struggles continued, Posh Alexander was scoreless for a half and the press, which worked so well against Seton Hall, was sliced apart by the sharpshooting 14th-ranked Wildcats.
Villanova made it a half-court game, and St. John’s couldn’t create nearly enough offense. It was stagnant, settling for poor shots and having no sense of urgency. Possessions frequently lacked direction and cohesion, ending in desperation drives as the shot clock wound down.
Champagnie’s struggles continued, in a nine-point performance, his third straight game in single figures after 47 in a row scoring at least 10. He was 0-for-4 from 3-point range and is 2-for-14 from deep in his last three games. He wasn’t alone. The Johnnies were 4-of-21 from 3-point range. They shot a worse percentage from the free throw line (47.1 percent) than Villanova did from three (47.8). Only Montez Mathis scored in double figures, finishing with 14 points.
Villanova shot just 30 percent from the field in the second half, and it didn’t matter. St. John’s couldn’t get closer than nine until the final minutes and never threatened.
St. John’s (11-8, 3-5 Big East) started well, holding Villanova to four points and 1-of-9 shooting over the first 7:20. It held a six point lead. Then everything went wrong.
Villanova got hot from deep. The Johnnies threw the ball away. The lead didn’t just vanish, but the Wildcats nearly ran away and hid. They ripped off a 16-0 run and led by as many as 18, torching St. John’s from beyond the arc.
Villanova beat the pressure and used it against the Johnnies, working the ball around the perimeter for wide-pen looks. St. John’s hit 9-of-12 from distance in the opening half, making nearly as many 3-pointers as the Red Storm had made field goals (11). It’s two stars, Alexander and Champagnie, were a combined 2-of-10 from the field while four different Wildcats — Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore, Caleb Daniels and Jordan Longino — hit multiple 3-pointers.