For the first time since 2011, Saint Joseph’s has upset No. 18 Villanova in the annual Philadelphia Holy War by a final score of 78-65.
The Hawks led essentially wire-to-wire grabbing an early 7-6 lead by the U16 media timeout. As expected however, the Wildcats quickly clawed back to a 24-23 advantage moments before the U8 media timeout.
This would mark Villanova’s last lead of the game as the Hawks jumped back ahead on a 3-pointer from Xzayvier Brown. Followed by some clutch shooting from Brown and Erik Reynolds II, the Hawks pushed out to 43-35 at the half.
While St. Joe’s did a great job limiting first-half fouls, Villanova came out fast in the second half and quickly put Anthony Finkley and Rasheer Flemming in foul trouble.
When it seemed like the Wildcats gained the momentum and pulled within 52-45 at the U12 timeout of the second half, head coach Billy Lange’s adjustments were critical to help settle the Hawks down and maintain an edge.
A switch back to a 3-2 zone on the defensive end saw the Hawks go without a foul for almost 12 minutes as the clutch step back shots from Reynolds continued to fall.
From the U12 timeout on, the Hawks battled to limit Eric Dixon inside and continued to force turnovers as the Wildcats scrambled to close a double-digit gap.
Ultimately the Wildcats finished with 17 turnovers forced by a quick, aggressive and scrappy Hawks defense that limited Tyler Burton to just 5 points and TJ Bamba to a single free throw.
As Villanova scrambled to shoot threes in the closing minutes, Reynolds, Brown and Fleming saw out the 78-65 victory at the free throw line for St. Joe’s.
For the first time since Jameer Nelson, Delonte West and Saint Joseph’s went into the Pavilion and won in 2004, the Hawks come out victorious at Villanova.— John Fanta (@John_Fanta) November 30, 2023
Erik Reynolds II & Xzayvier Brown led the way. What a moment for @SJUHawks_MBB and Billy Lange!
Reynolds finished the night leading all scorers with 24 points and three assists shooting 5-for-8 from behind the arc while Fleming added a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double.
With tonight’s victory over Villanova, St. Joe’s sits 2-0 atop Pod 2 of the Big 5 standings and will now play for the Big 5 Classic title this Saturday against Temple at the Wells Fargo Center.