St. John’s (8-5) headed to Philadelphia to face the Villanova Wildcats (10-4) Wednesday night as Big East play began.
Coming into the game, Nova had won nine of their last eleven games against the Storm. Last season St. John’s fell in overtime to the Wildcats 79-76. This game would have a similar result.
Point Guard Jamal Branch got his first start as a member of the Red Storm, though it was D’Angelo Harrison who ran the offense early for the storm. After a steal and a bucket from Harrison, St. John’s and Nova were knotted 3-3.
With 14 to go the Storm finally broke up a mini 5-0 run with an Amir Garret dunk. After trading a couple of buckets, Harrison was able to tie things up again at 10-10.
Both teams continued to keep things close in the first portion of the half. Phil Greene gave St. John’s their biggest lead of the game thus far at 17-13 after hitting a shot from behind the arc.
Harrison and Greene hit back to back three pointers with 7 to go in the first half. Sir’Dom Pointer got elbowed up high by Maurice Sutton of Nova after the Greene three. A flagrant was not called however, and Pointer was given two free throws.
Ryan Arcidiacono quickly drained two three pointers of his own after Greene hit just one of his free throws. Arcidiacono added a few more points as Nova went on a 13-4 run. With 3 to go St. John’s trailed 35-32.
Despite 21 points for Harrison in the first 20 minutes, St. John’s went into halftime trailing 43-40. Jamal Branch had been called for a flagrant foul late in the first that seemed to tip the momentum in favor of Villanova, as they finished on an 8-2 run.
Nova continued their control of the game coming out of halftime, taking a 50-42 lead in the first 2 minutes of the second. St. John’s finally got some control of there own, going on a 9-5 run to trim the Villanova lead to 55-51.
Branch was able to rebound quick from a bad turnover, hitting a quick three for the Storm. He quickly added two more points following a Wildcat bucket, keeping the Storm deficit at just 4 points.
Although Branch did manage to cut into the Nova lead, Arcidiacono continued to help it grow. With 12 minutes to go he hit one of his seven three pointers of the game, as he finished with 32 on the night while allowing the Wildcats to gain a 63-56 lead.
With 8 to go Amir Garret scored four straight points to get St. John’s within two points of the Nova lead. But as Arcidiacono had done all night, he came back with a three. That would not stop the Storm from coming back however.
D’Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene hit two three pointers the other way and St. John’s was able to tie the game for the first time in the second half. With 7 to go, the teams were even 72-72.
Neither team was able to pull away in the next few minutes, with Nova outscoring St. John’s 6-4. Phil Greene then hit a big shot from deep followed by a layup, giving the Storm an 81-78 lead with 3 to go.
With 5 seconds to go, Nova held an 83-81 lead. D’Angelo Harrison got to the free throw line and hit both shots to send it to overtime.
Overtime would not be pretty for the Storm as they scored just three points, eventually falling to Villanova by a final of 98-86. Harrison would have a career high 36 points, but they would not be enough to get the Storm their first Big East victory of the year.
St. Johns will continue Big East play this Saturday as they head up to Cincinnati to face the 14 ranked Bearcats in what will be a 4 P.M. start time.