By Sean Kennedy
Action Over the Weekend
Saint Joseph’s 53, Denver 52
It wasn’t always pretty but St. Joe’s will head into A-10 play riding a 5-game winning streak, after a grueling 1-point victory over the Pioneers. Denver coach Joe Scott played and coached at Princeton, and his Denver squad gave the Hawks fits running those Princeton offense backdoor cuts early on. Denver led by as many as 11 points in the first half, thanks mainly to Jalen Love, who finished with a game and season-high 20 points. However, Langston Galloway kept the Hawks hanging around (team-high 14 points on the game), and they trailed by just two at halftime.
The Denver defense swarmed Ronald Roberts, Jr. on the interior, wanting to force other members of the Hawks to beat them. Roberts was 0-7 from the field in the first half, but bounced back nicely in the second 20 minutes, hitting all 4 of his shots in the second half to finish with 9 points, and also contributing a game-high 15 rebounds and 4 steals. The Pioneers had two shots to tie or go-ahead in the closing seconds but weren’t able to convert. Chris Wilson iced the game with 2 free throws and St. Joe’s will have a few days to celebrate before taking on a ranked Massachusetts team Wednesday night.
La Salle 76, Pennsylvania 57
La Salle continued their dominance of Penn in recent years with a convincing win over the Quakers in a game they led by as many as 35 points. Jerrell Wright led the Explorers with 21 points on 8-9 shooting, including scoring the first 8 points of the second half as the Explorers really started to pull away. Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland each added 14 points and 3 threes a piece, with Garland returning to the starting lineup for the first time in over a month.
Playing without center Darien Nelson-Henry once again due to a concussion, Penn was pushed around on the glass by a 45-29 margin. Tony Hicks (16 points) and Fran Dougherty (14 points) were the only Quakers in double-digits; Miles Jackson-Cartwright went cold in the midst of a recent hot stretch, fouling out with just 1 point. Both teams will begin conference play this week, with La Salle looking to remain above .500 and Penn attempting to snap a 7-game losing streak.
UCF 78, Temple 76
Despite a huge effort from Will Cummings, Temple fell just short in a loss to a rugged UCF Knights team. The junior guard scored a career-high 31 points without committing a single turnover, buoyed by perfect shooting from both behind the arc (3-3) and the foul line (10-10). However, the Owls suffered yet another injury when Mark Williams hurt his ankle early in the first half, and Temple is practically running a skeleton crew out there at this point.
Lacking any meaningful depth, Temple struggled on the boards, with UCF maintaining a 41-27 rebounding advantage. Both Isaiah Sykes (23 points, 15 rebounds) and Eugene McCrory recorded double-doubles for Central Florida. Temple will get another chance to earn its first conference win Thursday against South Florida, but things aren’t getting any easier the way injuries keep piling up for the Owls.
Villanova 91, Providence 61
Villanova put forth arguably their best performance of the season, tying a season-high with 14 made threes as they cruised to an easy victory over the Friars. The Wildcats jumped on Providence right from the start as their 50-26 halftime lead represented both their biggest halftime lead and the most points they’ve scored in the first half this season. Villanova had as many made threes (7) as the Friars had made field goals in the first 20 minutes.
JayVaughn Pinkson led the Wildcats with 19 points and 7 rebounds and Dylan Ennis scored 17 points off the bench behind a 4-5 mark from behind the arc. Bryce Cotton, the Big East’s second-leading scorer, did his best to keep Providence in the game with 25 points, but too many Wildcats were on fire to keep things close. Villanova also dodged a bullet when Arcidiacono and Ennis banged heads hard and had to be taken out of the game. However, both players eventually returned to the game so everything came up Villanova on the evening.