Saturday, January 6, 2024

St. John's Vanquishes Villanova In Signal This Is A New Year


Brady Dunlap draining a three-pointer. @StJohnsBball.

The St. John's Red Storm went down to Philadelphia and scored a decisive victory over the Villanova Wildcats, 81-71, on Saturday afternoon.

St. John's improves to 11-4 overall, and 3-1 in Big East Conference play on the season. It was the first time they won at Villanova in nearly five years, dating back to February 7, 2018, during Shamorie Ponds' late season run that year.

Joel Soriano led the way with 20 points on 7-10 shooting, with eight rebounds and three assists. Daniss Jenkins had 18 points on 7-17 from the field, including 2-5 on three-pointers.

Brady Dunlap got the start in this one, and he made the most of it, as he had 15 points on 5-8 shooting, with 3-5 from behind the arc, with two rebounds.

St. John's opened the game with a dunk from Soriano, the emphatic start of a 10-0 run that opened it up. 

Even though Villanova cut it to six points, 34-28, at halftime, the Red Storm opened the second half with a 10-2 run capped by a Glenn Taylor layup at the 16:02 mark.

That put St. John's up 44-30, and it felt like they maintained a 10-point edge the rest of the way, bulking the lead up to 17, at 67-50, when Jenkins got a layup with 5:26 left.

Villanova responded with a 7-0 run, but Dunlap then drained a corner three at the 2:44 mark that sealed the win.

St. John's next game will be against Providence on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.

PITINO POSTGAME: St. John's Red Storm Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media after the win, and he opened with this: "Obviously it was a great road win for us. Offensively, we were very efficient, especially in the first eight minutes of the game. We never relented because we kept attacking the basket, which was beautiful to see, and we played great defense, by in large we did an outstanding job there. [Joel] Soriano and Daniss [Jenkins] have been playing fantastic basketball. Joel is so much fun to coach because probably, there isn't a more likable human being on Earth. He is so much fun to coach because his attitude is tremendous, it's always about winning. It's never about him, it's always about the team. We had to bring in new players and thank God he stayed, because he is the captain. Daniss is as good as it gets, with the exception of the play these two guys ran where DJ took on the big guy. Other than that, it was an awesome performance from our guys."

On the win over Villanova: "You know it's a great win for us because we are getting better. I try to make sure we don't get too high, but celebrate a great victory. We don't get too low after a loss. It was a really good win. I don't look at the past too much. I've always believed that the past you both cherish and you learn from it, but you don't live in it and the future will take care of itself if [Joel and Daniss] keep playing like that. We just take care of this game and now we have a tough Providence game. I'm just proud of our guys. Totally focused in on beating Villanova.

On the improved defense: "With the exception of [Daniss Jenkins], we recruited all offensive basketball players, and we are trying to teach them defense. It's really difficult when you have all defensive players, and you try to teach them offense. When you have gifted offensive players, the defense is just hard work and paying attention to scouting. Now, they are all becoming a good defensive team. They are mixing up their zone with their man. They are mixing up their presses. They are an intelligent group."

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