Taylor King delivered the dagger to kill the Hawk with a deep 3-pointer at the 1:31 mark, to put Villanova up by seven. The Wildcats hit their free throws (30 of 31 in the second half) to close out the game for a 97-89 victory over St. Joe's.
You could tell from the start that despite St. Joe's under .500 record and Nova's #3 national ranking, it would be a close game. The atmosphere in the Palestra was intense, as Phil Martelli, his players, and the St. Joe's fans treat the annual "Holy War" as their biggest game of the year. As a member of the Big East, that is not quite the case for Villanova, but Jay Wright had his players prepared to match the intensity regardless.
The game started out at a frenetic pace, with each team trading bucket for bucket. The fast pace played right into Jay Wright's game plan because there was no way St. Joe's would be able to run with the ultra-deep Wildcats. The Hawks were able to keep up with Nova in the first half, but at the start of the second half they looked as tired as the Hawks mascot after waving his arms the entire game. Nova was able to build a semi-comfortable lead in the second half before St. Joe's final push at the end of the game.
Scottie Reynolds had another fantastic game with a very efficient 22 points (4-5 fg, 2-3 3pt, 12-14 ft). He added 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and a block. His only problem was being a little too sloppy with the ball, turning it over six times.
Taylor King played his best game as a Wildcat with 20 points and 9 rebounds in his sixth man role. King showed great perseverance in this game. He missed all four of his 3-point attempts in the first half, yet remained confident in his lefty stroke and made all four of his shots from downtown in the second half. King had an embarrassing moment on a break-away when he was rejected by the rim and missed the dunk. However, he returned to the game aggressive, looking to make up for it, and he did.
Antonio Pena was having his way inside against the Hawks. He was scoring in the post at will and grabbing every rebound in his vicinity. The only one who held him back from a monster game was himself, as he was somewhat limited by foul troubles. He finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, a block, and 4 personal fouls in 25 minutes.
Corey Fisher had some sweet dishes to lead the team with 6 assists. He scored 13 points, and was a perfect 8 of 8 from the line. Fisher is averaging over seven free throw attempts per game.
Corey Stokes had a quiet night with just 4 points and 4 rebounds. He missed two threes early in the game, then he didn't look for his shot the rest of the game. Perhaps he realized he just didn't have it that night and deferred to the hot hands (Reynolds and King).
Maurice Sutton was active on the boards; he collected 6 rebounds (3 offensive). However, he missed some easy baskets inside. Sutton needs to learn to go stronger to the hoop. When you're almost seven feet tall you should be dunking the ball with authority, not laying it in softly.
Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek brought some energy and scoring off the bench, combining for 17 points and 4 rebounds. Isaiah Armwood added 2 points in 5 minutes.
With the win, Villanova moves to 3-0 in the Big 5 this season, and they will look to run the table this Sunday versus Temple.