Another slow start for Villanova leads to their first Big East loss of the season | Villanova vs. St. John’s Recap
Written by David Szczepanski on January 8, 2024
Villanova loses their first Big East game of the season against St. John’s, 81-71. The Red Storm defeated the Wildcats on Villanova’s campus for the first time in over 20 years on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats scored just 28 points in the first twenty minutes, and they finished the game shooting 21% from behind the arc. On his birthday, TJ Bamba led all scorers with 23 points. Mark Armstrong shot 6-10 from the field with 14 points and four assists. Eric Dixon scored 14 points, but he was a -5 when on the court and struggled against Joel Soriano for much of the afternoon.
St. John’s converted 47.5% of their shots from the field and 43.8% from three. Joel Soriano scored 20 points in 34 minutes with eight rebounds. Daniss Jenkins had a strong second half to finish with 18 points and five assists. The Red Storm outrebounded the Wildcats by three.
First Half: The Wildcats Early Game Struggles
Once again, Villanova did not get off to a good start in the first half. The Wildcats trailed, 10-0, about four minutes into the game. At the first media timeout, St. John’s led Villanova, 12-3, after a Jordan Dingle jump shot. The Wildcats’ only points in the first five minutes of the game came from a TJ Bamba three-pointer.
The Red Storm extended their lead to 13 points with 10:54 left in the first half. The Wildcats had no answer for St. John’s full court press. Villanova would trail by as many as 15 points midway through the first, but Eric Dixon finally got on the board at the end of the first half to help the Wildcats cut the deficit to six points at halftime.
The main battle in this game was between Eric Dixon and Joel Soriano. Soriano definitely won the first half battle. Despite finding some offense in the final seconds of the first, Dixon shot 2-9 from the field for five points at halftime. Villanova had eight turnovers in the first twenty minutes and could not consistently knock down shots both from the paint and behind the arc.
To begin the second half, Villanova struggled defensively against the Red Storm. Brady Dunlap, Glenn Taylor Jr., and Daniss Jenkins continued to find success. Dunlap and Taylor Jr. were not originally in the starting lineup, but due to injuries, they received a lot of playing time and really hurt Villanova in this game.
The Wildcats would get within nine or ten points, but they could not put together a sustained run against the Red Storm in the second half. Villanova had trouble inbounding against the full court press and could not score from behind the arc. TJ Bamba was the player of the game for the Wildcats, but they simply did not play well enough to win the game and they struggled to keep the game close. Eric Dixon lost the battle to Joel Soriano, and for the first time in a little while, the Wildcats’ defense struggled. Villanova falls to 10-5 overall and 3-1 in Big East play.
Up Next….DePaul + WXVU Coverage
The Wildcats take on DePaul on January 12th at 8:30pm. WXVU will have live coverage of this game beginning with the pregame show at 8pm.