Saint Joseph’s late second-half rally fell short as the Hawks were defeated by #21 Villanova, 70-58, in a Big 5 matchup at Finneran Pavilion.
Saint Joseph’s played the game without Charlie Brown, Jr., the Atlantic 10’s leading scorer, who injured his ankle in the previous game against Princeton. They were also without sixth man and top rebounder Pierfrancesco Oliva, who suffered a concussion a week ago.
Villanova (8-2; 3-0 Big 5) was led by Eric Paschall with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while Joe Cremo, Phil Booth and Jermaine Samuels scored 12 apiece.
The Wildcats connected on 13-of-43 three-pointers in the game while Saint Joseph’s made 6-of-27.
After Villanova took its biggest lead of the game, 62-40, with 8:43 to play, the Hawks went on a 16-0 run, which included a pair of threes from Funk, to pull within 62-56 with under four minutes to play.
But Booth connected on a three-pointer to snap the scoreless streak and push Villanova’s lead to 65-56. A putback by Markell Lodge pulled the Hawks within, 65-58, but it was the closest SJU would come as Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree converted a three-point play at 1:07 to seal the win.
“You have to be able to dribble against their defense and we didn’t do enough of that. And to their credit it was the other guys. I think they had 31 points from the bench,” said head coach Phil Martelli. “To me, It’s the plays at the rim, the layups, that we didn’t finish. It’s not like we were going to trade threes. I’m comfortable with the number of threes that we take. A missed layup is like getting hit with a bat and when you give up a layup, that hurts your aggressiveness. We put the ball in front of the rim enough. It’s the finishing at the basket.”
The score was tight in the early going, as the teams traded leads and had four ties. Villanova owned a 22-17 lead as they went 6-of-16 from three-point range, while the Hawks hit just 1-of-9.
Villanova led, 32-24, on a three by Samuels but consecutive baskets by Kimble and Holston trimmed it to 32-28. Booth connected on three free throws and Paschall hit another three and the Wildcats had their biggest lead of the half, 38-28, which remained the score at halftime.
The Hawks get a break for final exams and return to action on December 22 when they host Loyola Chicago at The Palestra.