Nothing went right for the St. John’s Red Storm (19-7, 7-6) in the first half of Sunday’s, 71-65 win over the Villanova Wildcats (20-6, 11-2). Well, almost nothing went right. Justin Simon connected on 70 footer right before the first half buzzer that helped cut a 19-point first half deficit to 37-26 game at the half.
To everyone’s surprise, the Red Storm followed through on Simon’s desperation heave and continued to scorch the nets in the second half. Overall, the Red Storm connected on 8 of 23 shots from 3-point range. Seven of those makes came in the second half when the reeled in the defending national champions.
It was a tale of two games. Moreover, both teams played an entirely different style. Although the Wildcats fell short, their bench contributed 26 points. Meanwhile, the Red Storm earned all of their points from the starting five.
Simon may have gotten the party started with the 3-point barrage, but he wasn’t the only factor from beyond the arc. LJ Figueroa lead the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds and 4 steals. He also led the Red Storm with three triples in the decisive second half run. Mustapha Heron kept the Johnnies in the game early and finished the game with 19 points. The aforementioned Simon chipped in with 13 points.
Shamorie Ponds is usually the main attraction when the Red Storm win a big game. However, he had a rough shooting night throughout Sunday’s contest. Ponds finished the game, 2 of 13 from the field and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Yet, he played a tremendous floor game on both sides of the ball. More importantly, Ponds made sure he wasn’t the only point guard to struggle from the field.
Phil Booth led all of the Wildcats’ starters with 13 points. However, he was only 2 of 10 from the field. Booth also missed three huge free throws down the stretch when the game was still in contention. Overall, he was 9 of 12 from the foul line, but didn’t have his usually clutch play available. Meanwhile, fellow senior Joe Cremo came off the bench to score 14 points.
Conventional wisdom states the Red Storm will make the NCAA Tournament after this victory. They already swept the regular season series against the Marquette Golden Eagles. Meaning, they won 3 of 4 games against the top two teams in the Big East.
St. John’s is remains in a third place tie with the Seton Hall Pirates. The Pirates also won their Sunday matinee over the Creighton Blue Jays. Although the season is looking up, the Red Storm is not quite a lock for a bid on Selection Sunday. There are six regular season games left before the Big East Tournament begins at Madison Square Garden. If today is any indication, the garden will be rocking for the hometown team.