No. 23 Villanova beats St. John’s 76-57

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP)—After a week off after a tough loss, No. 23 Villanova was anxious to play.

And the Wildcats showed it Sunday, jumping out to a big lead and cruising to a 76-57 victory over St. John’s.

Dante Cunningham scored 17 points, Dwayne Anderson had a season-high 14 and Antonio Pena added 12 for the Wildcats (14-3, 2-2 Big East), who set a new team mark with their 24th straight home-court victory at the Pavilion.

D.J. Kennedy had 18 points and Quincy Roberts 14 for St. John’s (10-7, 1-4), which lost for the sixth time in seven games and fifth in a row to Villanova.

“We were all dying to play a game,” said coach Jay Wright, whose team last played Jan. 10 in a one-point loss to Louisville. “We watched film of Louisville and saw what mistakes we made. We tried to get the seniors to help us out with the young guys.”

“It was a long time to rest,” Cunningham said. “We talked to the young guys about not getting down and on what has to get done as the season progresses.”

St. John’s, which trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half, scored the first nine points of the second half, six of them by Justin Burrell, to trail by 44-36. Anderson then hit a 3-pointer, sparking a 13-4 Villanova run for 57-40 advantage. After hitting on 10 consecutive shots, the Villanova lead reached 64-48 with 7:31 to play.

“I’ll give Villanova a lot of credit, they’re a real good basketball team,” said St. John’s coach Norm Roberts. “They did a good job pressing us and getting us out of our offense. We let them get off to such a good start and that didn’t help.”

Despite the loss, the Red Storm still holds a 59-43 edge over Villanova, its most frequent opponent, in the all-time series.

Villanova started the game with a 19-3 run and led 44-27 at the break. Villanova hit on 17 of 30 shots in the half while the Red Storm committed a dozen turnovers leading to 19 Wildcat points.

“I think we played hard and competed most of the game,” Wright said. “At times, we were trying to be too perfect.”

Villanova was not at its usual crispness, committing 16 turnovers, but gave a great shooting performance, hitting on 30 of 51 shots (58.8 percent), its top shooting percentage of the season. The Wildcats also had 18 assists in the game but missed seven of 18 free throws.

St. John’s, on the other hand, was 17-for-44 (38.6 percent) and turned the ball over 19 times.

Villanova’s last loss on its home court was Jan. 6, 2007, falling to DePaul 73-65. The streak began with a 102-87 victory over Notre Dame on Jan. 17, 2007.

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