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#18 Villanova loses to Saint Joseph’s in Philly Big 5 Upset | Villanova vs. Drexel Preview

Written by on December 2, 2023

#18 Villanova suffers their second loss of the season to Saint Joseph’s, 78-65. The Hawks defeated the Wildcats for the first time at the Finneran Pavilion since 2004, and they snapped their 11-game losing streak against Villanova. St. Joseph’s Erik Reynolds II made 8 of 13 shots from the field for 24 total points. Saint Joseph’s had four other players score double digits on Wednesday night. The Hawks shot 57% from the field and 52% from behind the arc.

Overall Game Stats

The Wildcats struggled to find consistent scoring, which was the complete opposite in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. Saint Joseph’s utilized zone defense against Villanova, which the Wildcats really struggled against again this season. Penn used the same style of defense against Villanova and both Big 5 teams found ways to eliminate Villanova’s consistent two-point scoring and force turnovers. Villanova finished the game with 17 turnovers on Wednesday, which tied a season high. Eric Dixon had the best game for the Wildcats with 14 points and three assists. Justin Moore led Villanova in points with 17, but he finished with four turnovers and was just 3-12 from three. Moore reached 1,500 career points on Wednesday night.

First Half Recap

Saint Joseph’s and Villanova started out shooting well in the first half with both teams exchanging baskets early. There were some turnovers for both teams, but they found ways to score. However, the Wildcats really struggled offensively and defensively at the end of the first twenty minutes. The Hawks took their largest lead of the first half with 23 seconds left to go when Lynn Greer III made a layup to extend their lead to ten. Eric Dixon ended the half with a nice layup as time expired, but Villanova still trailed by eight at the break.

Second Half Recap

The Wildcats started the second half with a scoring drought. Villanova’s first basket in the second came about five minutes into the half with a Justin Moore layup. The deficit stayed at around 10 points for most of the second. The Wildcats went on a little run to trail by seven with eight minutes left, but Saint Joseph’s and their great three-point shooting never allowed Villanova to get close. In a somewhat low scoring half, the Hawks outscored Villanova, 35-30. Reynolds II scored 10 of his 24 points with two threes in the second. Justin Moore was 3-11 from the field and 1-8 from three for eight points in the final twenty minutes. Hakim Hart provided a spark off the bench with six points and two rebounds, but he only played six minutes in the second.

Villanova made just 31% of their shots from the field in the second. They also made just 4 of 22 three-point attempts. Overall, the Wildcats finished with a 39% shooting percentage from the field and 27% from three. They took 37 shots from three compared to Saint Joseph’s 27. The Hawks scored 28 points off turnovers. Some similar themes from the loss against Penn like struggling against zone defense and poor three-point shooting showed up again in the second Big 5 game and loss of the season for Villanova.

With the loss to the Hawks, the Wildcats finish 0-2 in Big 5 play, so they will play the other 0-2 team from the other pod, which is Drexel.

Philly Big 5 Classic Information

In the inaugural Philly Big 5 Classic, Villanova will play in Consolation Game 2 for 5th place against Drexel at the Wells Fargo Center, which will begin at 2pm. The full schedule is attached below:

Drexel vs. VILLANOVA 2pm

La Salle vs. Penn 4:45pm

Temple vs. Saint Joseph’s 7:30pm

Villanova vs. Drexel Preview

The Drexel Dragons head into this game against the Wildcats with a 4-3 record in their first seven games. They lost their two Big 5 Games against Temple and La Salle; however, both games were extremely close. The Dragons lost by just two points to Temple, who could win the Big 5 Classic on Saturday night. Drexel’s wins have come against Winthrop, Fairfield, Queens, and Lafayette. This will be Drexel’s first game against a ranked team since 2021.

The Wildcats and Dragons last played in the regular season in December of 2009. Villanova defeated Drexel, 77-58, at the Finneran Pavilion. Nova leads the all-time series, 18-1.

Drexel’s leading scorer is Amari Williams. Williams, a senior forward from Nottingham, England, averages 13 points and eight rebounds per game. He has scored at least ten points in Drexel’s last two games against Old Dominion and Lafayette. He was also named CAA preseason player of the year.

Drexel does not have any other player averaging more than 10 points. Justin Moore averages 9.6 points per game for the Dragons. Lamar Oden, Jr. is one of Drexel’s best rebounders. He averages seven rebounds and eight points per game. As a team, the Dragons only average about 65 points per game. Drexel is shooting 42% from the field as a team. However, they are shooting just 24% from behind the arc. They are a decent rebounding team.

Drexel and head coach, Zach Spiker, will use a lot of players in each game and constantly switch up their rotations. In their last game against Lafayette, they used 12 total players with 10 players at least playing ten minutes.

Prediction: Villanova Wins by Double-Digits

The Wildcats are double-digit favorites heading into this matchup. However, as we have seen through Big 5 play this season, all of the games have been extremely close. Villanova has the edge in almost every category except rebounding, but I think the game will be close for the first 30 minutes. However, I believe the Wildcats will win by about ten or twelve points by the end of the game. Justin Moore and Eric Dixon have scored at least ten points in seven of Villanova’s eight games. The Dragons simply do not have enough scoring to keep up with the Wildcats.

WXVU Schedule Information

Due to conflicting time slots, WXVU will not be able to broadcast Saturday’s basketball game vs. Drexel. We will have live coverage of Villanova vs. Youngstown State in the second round of the FCS playoffs beginning at 11:30am with the pregame show followed by kickoff at 12pm.