The Wildcats (24-3, 12-2), who broke the six-game winning streak of St. John's (18-10, 8-7), seemed to enjoy the fact they won a game with defense and a season-low point total instead of needing to reach their scoring average of nearly 81 per game.
"We prepare for this every day in practice," said Villanova's Darrun Hilliard, who led all scorers with 18 points. "We don't prepare for coming out one night making every shot we put up. We prepare for the most difficult situations, and that's the type of games we get up for . . . the type of games we want."
The game was locked at 50 before Arcidiacono put Villanova ahead to stay with a high-arched three-pointer over 6-foot-9 JaKarr Sampson with 3 minutes, 44 seconds to play. Sampson switched to guard Arcidiacono after Daniel Ochefu set a screen for his teammate.
"The shot clock was down to six or something, and I thought I'd just shoot a rhythm three," Arcidiacono said. "But [Sampson] contested it so high, and I tried to put some extra air under it, and it was good. That's all luck."
"Arch works on that banked three all the time," Villanova coach Jay Wright said with a deadpan expression. "He's one of the few guys that can make that consistently."
Still, the Wildcats were unable to put St. John's away. With his team up four, Ochefu missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Red Storm got a free throw and then a basket from D'Angelo Harrison, and it was 54-53 with 56.5 seconds remaining.
From there, St. John's had the ball twice down by one possession. First, Phil Greene was called for traveling. The second time, Villanova led by three and fouled Harrison, who made the first free throw with 1.5 seconds left and then tried to deliberately miss the second, but Rysheed Jordan was called for a lane violation.
After Josh Hart sank a free throw, Jordan's half-court heave missed at the buzzer.