By Sean Kennedy
Villanova 57, St. John’s 54
It won’t stand in any museums of what outstanding offensive basketball looks like, but the Wildcats did just enough against a great defensive St. John’s team to eke out a victory. With Villanova up 2 with under 30 seconds left, St. John’s had the ball and with Villanova needing a stop, the Wildcats forced a traveling call on Phil Greene. After Ryan Arcidiacono hit one of two free throws on the other end, St. John’s had one last chance to tie and went for the old-fashioned three-point play with D’Angelo Harrison at the rim. However, he couldn’t get the shot off, and after making the first free throw, St. John’s was called for a lane violation to secure the victory for Villanova.
Darrun Hilliard ensured the Wildcats kept out in front, as he recorded a game-high 18 points going 4-5 from three, hitting three of those triples 7 minutes into the game to help Villanova out of the gate. Arcidiacono shot just 4-12 from the field, but finished with 12 points and banked in a three in closing minutes to break a tie game. With 3 of 4 remaining regular season games at home, the Wildcats are positioned to end the season strong, and they’ve shown the ability to win games in a variety of ways. Saturday was just one of the less aesthetically pleasing W’s for the Cats.
Saint Joseph’s 87, Fordham 72
Unlike the Rhode Island game, St. Joe’s had no intentions of having this game come down to the final minutes, as they jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never trailed in cruising to an easy victory over Fordham. The Hawks shot 59% from the field and hit 15 threes, as they led by as many as 29 points in the second half. Langston Galloway led the perimeter attack for St. Joe’s, as he drained a school-record 10 threes on his way to a career-high 33 points.
The Hawks also controlled the game on the interior, as Ronald Roberts and Halil Kanacevic were each a perfect 4-4 from the field, and helped St. Joe’s to a 36-28 rebounding edge on the glass. Bryan Smith scored a career-high 28 points for Fordham behind a a 6-11 effort from behind the arc, but with Galloway matching him better than shot for shot, it wasn’t enough for the Rams. With the win, the Hawks moved into sole possession of second place in the A-10, and are positioning themselves well for a postseason run in March.
Richmond 62, La Salle 49
The Explorers were close to breaking their losing skid, as they found themselves down just one midway through the second half. However, Richmond reserve forward Terry Allen ignited a 19-5 Richmond run, and the Spiders pulled away for what ended up being an easy victory. Allen finished with a career-high 23 points on 9-16 shooting and 9 rebounds, which was more than the majority of the La Salle offense could muster on the afternoon.
Tyreek Duren hit 6 threes for a game-high 26 points and Jerrell Wright contributed 10 points on 5-6 shooting and 9 rebounds, but the rest of the Explorers couldn’t find the range from the outside. Tyrone Garland and Sam Mills combined to shoot just 4-22 from the field as La Salle shot 33% as a team. The 49 points were the second-lowest total for the Explorers on the season, as it was yet another uninspiring effort for a La Salle team that’s now lost 8 of their last 9 games. They have games upcoming next week against the Bonnies and Fordham, which likely represent their best chances to earn a victory the rest of the season.
Pennsylvania 74, Dartmouth 65
There would be no second-half collapse for the Quakers on this night, as Penn broke open a close game in the latter stages of the second half to top the Big Green at the Palestra. In the process, the Quakers avenged a loss to Dartmouth they suffered three weeks ago and ended their own three-game losing streak. Dartmouth’s Alex Mitola had destroyed Penn with 25 points in the teams’ last meeting, but scored just 4 points on 1-4 shooting in this contest.
Penn did a much better job taking care of the basketball with just 11 turnovers, and shot 49% from the field. Tony Hicks led the way for the Quakers with 18 points and Miles Jackson-Cartwright added 15 points and 9 assists. This outcome shows that when Penn doesn’t make dumb mistakes by turning the ball over and beating themselves, their offense can be very effective. Granted, this performance was against a Dartmouth squad which is toward the bottom of the Ivy League this season but we’ve seen Penn excel at times even against better opponents. They’ll look to build on this game when they host Brown and Yale next week, two teams they’ve lost to on the road earlier this month.
Memphis 82, Temple 79 (OT)
Seeking an upset victory over the Tigers, Temple finally found its three-point stroke in the second half (hitting 11 threes on the night), but it wasn’t quite enough as Memphis pulled away in overtime to keep the Owls in the AAC cellar. Down 8 at halftime, Temple used a flurry of triples to chop away at that deficit and actually earn themselves a lead. With the game tied in the closing seconds of regulation, the Owls had two shots at the win by jumpers by Quenton DeCosey and Will Cummings were both off the mark. Then in the extra frame, Temple’s shot abandoned them as they went just 2-10 from the field after regulation, including a Quenton DeCosey potential game-tying three that was unsuccessful
Cummings led the Owls with 24 points and 6 assists, and DeCosey had 23 points, including a 4-9 mark behind the arc. However, the starting Memphis frontline had a field day against a Temple squad without Anthony Lee once again due to a toe injury. Shaq Goodwin paced the Tigers with 20 points, but the breakout player was freshman Austin Nichols. Nichols contributed 17 points and recorded career-highs with 12 rebounds and 7 blocks. The Owls are certainly playing more spirited ball of late, but it’s little solace when they’re still falling short of victory. They’ll have one last game against a ranked opponent Thursday against Louisville.
3:00 PM: Drexel (14-12, 6-7 CAA) @ Delaware (20-8, 12-1 CAA)
After not fully taking advantage of a stretch of schedule against comparatively weaker CAA opponents, it will be a whole different ball game when they’re up against the first-place Blue Hens. Delaware defeated the Dragons but they’ll be shorthanded in today’s matchup with two of their key rotation players, Jarvis Threatt and Marvin King-Davis both suspended for separate athletic department violations. In their absence, even more of the offensive burden has fallen on a pair of senior guards, Devon Saddler and Davon Usher.
Both Saddler and Usher shoot 45% from the field and 36% from three while averaging 20 ppg. Usher, in particular, has been on fire in February, averaging 28 ppg this month with 42 and 34-point efforts under his belt. Delaware might be the only team in the CAA that can argue they have a better starting backcourt than the Drexel pair of Frantz Massenat and Chris Fouch. Facing a Blue Hens squad that isn’t particularly deep and are currently down 2 players, Drexel has a shot of pulling off this upset but they’ll need their own pair of guards to outplay the high-scoring duo of Delaware.