Villanova blows past St. Joseph's

Villanova's James Bell goes to the hoop. Bell finished with career highs in points (25) and rebounds (14) for the No. 14 Wildcats (9-0), who didn't seem to miss in the second half.
Villanova's James Bell goes to the hoop. Bell finished with career highs in points (25) and rebounds (14) for the No. 14 Wildcats (9-0), who didn't seem to miss in the second half. (AP)
Posted: December 09, 2013

Consider St. Joseph's basketball coach Phil Martelli the latest to be both impressed and beaten by Villanova.

After leading by four at halftime, the Wildcats scored the first eight points of a scintillating second half and were never threatened during a 98-68 victory over the Hawks on Saturday night at Hagan Arena.

"I looked at three or four minutes of Kentucky and people said they were the preseason No. 1. Well, Villanova is better," Martelli said. "The Villanova team that just played is better than the Kentucky team."

The Villanova team that played in the second half may give the Miami Heat a run. Even coach Jay Wright knows he can't expect that type of effort that saw the Wildcats shoot 9 for 16 from beyond the arc.

"That second half we made [almost] every shot," Wright said.

The No. 14 Wildcats (9-0) have beaten high-profile teams such as Kansas and Iowa, yet Wright thought this was another measuring stick, especially competing in such a loud gym.

"To go into this environment and play like that tells us a lot about our team," Wright said. "We have a lot of character and mental toughness."

Not to mention a lot of intelligence.

"It's our best basketball-IQ team since I've been there," said Wright, whose team committed just five turnovers.

Nobody ignited the second-half surge more than 6-foot-6 Villanova senior James Bell, who had career highs in points (25) and rebounds (14). This was after totaling just two points and four rebounds in the first half.

"When my teammates put me in good position to make the plays they did, I am able to make shots," said Bell, who was 5 for 8 from beyond the arc in the second half.

'Nova also received 27 points and eight rebounds from 6-7, 240-pound JayVaughn Pinkston, who hurt the Hawks inside.

"And this was JayVaughn's best defensive game ever," Wright said.

St. Joseph's (4-4) was led by Langston Galloway, who had 18 points. But the Hawks also got a strong effort from emerging 6-6 freshman DeAndre' Bembry, who had 17 points before fouling out.

Martelli said that Bembry didn't practice Friday after hurting his knee Wednesday in a 77-69 loss at Temple and he thought the freshman was a step slow defensively.

"I wasn't as quick out there, but I still have to make plays," Bembry said.

Villanova owns a 46-25 record over St. Joseph's and this was the widest margin of victory in the series. The previous was a 102-73 Villanova win in 2002 at the Pavilion.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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