Dec. 10, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - In front of a sold-out Palestra crowd, #3 Villanova held off Saint Joseph's, 97-89, in the 67th edition of the annual Big 5 rivalry. Saint Joseph's junior Idris Hilliard had a near-perfect shooting night, hitting all five field goals and making 12-of-13 free throws for a career-high 22 points, while Villanova was led by Scottie Reynolds' 22 points and 20 points from Taylor King.
Villanova improves to 9-0 and 3-0 in the Big 5 while Saint Joseph's lost its fifth straight, dropping to 3-5 and 0-1.
"It was like a bout. They took a swing and we took a swing and they took a swing. We never got deflated. But we came here to win and we played for 40 minutes," said Hawk coach Phil Martelli.
Saint Joseph's never allowed Villanova to make a huge run, and every time the Wildcats went up by double digits, the Hawks would answer back. Freshman Carl Jones made three 3-pointers in the game, including one at 6:05 with Villanova leading 73-64. Villanova came back with free throws to go up 75-67, but Justin Crosgile hit a 3-pointer to close the Hawks to within 75-70.
With the Wildcats leading 77-71, Jones connected on another 3-pointer at 3:20 to pull the Hawks within 79-74. Villanova's King answered with a 3-point field goal at 3:03 to build a 82-74 cushion. SJU's freshmen Jones and Crosgile combined to score the next six points and the Hawks trailed by just 84-80. King then hit the back-breaker for the Hawks, connecting on his fourth 3-pointer of the game at 1:30 to push the Wildcats' lead to 87-80.
Four free throws by Corey Fisher and a dunk by Dominic Cheek at :38 put the game out of reach for the Hawks.
The Wildcats made 28 consecutive free throws in the second half over a span of the final 16 minutes.
"You play hard and you play to win and we came up short. I was pleased with our response. Against Purdue, they punched us and we crumbled. Sunday at Cornell we cracked. It never got uncomfortable for them (Villanova), but we didn't crack," said Martelli.
Saint Joseph's led early in the game and despite trailing for most of the first half, took a quick 38-37 lead with 2:41 to play. A layup by Reynolds returned the lead to Villanova and the Wildcats took a 41-38 edge into intermission.
Hilliard made all five field goal attempts and missed his first free throw of the game at 8:03 in the second half. He led five Hawks in double figures as Darrin Govens scored 19, Jones scored 16, Garrett Williamson had 13 and seven assists, and Crosgile hit for 12.
The Hawks have a quick turnaround and visit Minnesota on Saturday, December 12 for the first meeting between the two schools in over 40 years.