MBB: ‘Phila-nova’ wins city title

Kyle Scudilla

The Villanova Wildcats (16-7, 4-0 Big Five) captured their second consecutive Big Five title with a record-setting 56-39 victory over the St. Joseph’s Hawks (13-10, 2-1 Big Five). The 39 points by St. Joe’s is the fewest points it has scored in a Big Five game since 1939 when it put up just eight points against Villanova in the pre-shot clock era.

The Hawks shot a dismal 26 percent for the game and just 45.5 percent (10-of-22 shooting) from the free-throw line. None of the Hawks’ players scored in double-figures, and the team turned the ball over 21 times.

“Jay’s teams have been undersold defensively for the last couple of years,” Hawks Head Coach Phil Martelli said.

The Wildcats were never threatened by the scuffling Hawks. St. Joseph’s never held a lead and trailed by as much as 19 in the second half.

“We are getting there, defensively,” Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said. “That has been our consistency. The good thing is that we defend and we rebound. That’s going to keep us alive … we’ve got to get better offensively, but we’re getting there.”

Villanova also had its share of struggles from the field, shooting just 36 percent for the game and 3-for-22 from 3-point range. It didn’t need to score much to increase its lead over the floundering St. Joseph’s squad. The ‘Cats got plenty of easy looks from the inside, led by Curtis Sumpter, who looked dominant on the blocks during some of Villanova’s first-half possessions. Sumpter finished with a team-high 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. Mike Nardi was the other Wildcat in double-figures, finishing with 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Because of ailments suffered by Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds, the Wildcats needed some big performances from its bench to make the win possible. Cunningham did not start the game because he was hooked up to an IV before the game, receiving fluids to help deal with a sickness he had been experiencing. Starting in Cunningham’s place was fellow sophomore Shane Clark, who finished with nine points and a team-high eight rebounds. The Wildcats now have a record of 12-1 when Clark scores at least nine points. They are just 4-6 when he falls short of that mark.

Reynolds, meanwhile, had felt sick all day, but the coaching staff did not discover this until the second half. The freshman guard did not start the second half and played just 19 minutes. Reserve guard Bilal Benn got most of Reynolds’ minutes and gave Villanova a huge spark of energy off the bench, diving to the floor and making numerous hustle plays. The sophomore finished with six points, four rebounds and three steals in 19 minutes.

St. Joe’s’ leading scorer Ahmad Nivins was limited to just four shot attempts and six points. Forward Pat Calathes was held to four points. The Hawks were led by Garrett Williamson and D.J. Rivera who scored eight points apiece.

Villanova celebrates its second consecutive Big Five title, having won 11 straight games against its city rivals.

“We are very proud of that,” Wright said. “It means a lot to us, and it is an honor to be a part of it and to win it.”

Martelli rips St. Joseph’s after historic loss to ‘Nova

St. Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli had some strong words to describe his team after their 56-39 loss to Villanova. Here are excerpts from his post-game press conference:

-“Just for anybody that’s going to write it, you’re welcome, because I know you were going to have to go to your thesaurus and use ‘classic.’ Big Five classic. You do not have to use that tonight, so you’re welcome.”

-“We got our asses handed to us from the jump-ball on and the best thing that you can do is drop your head, don’t make eye contact with anybody and get out under the cover of darkness.”

-“Even if we had got points for passes completed, I think we would have lost 56-50.”

-“I apologize to Philadelphia, to the TV people that had to put that game on [and] to the fans that are so passionate about our team, but that was flat-out just an ass-whipping and we have to accept that.”

-“We do a plus and minus. I don’t know where I’m going to get any pluses.”

“This was the proverbial boys against men, and we had all the boys.”

-“There is nothing in our game that is significantly better than it was on October 14th. The only thing we’re better at is that we’re more inconsistent.”

-“We kicked the hell out of a four-on-one fast break. We kicked it so that if you had a Y team you would say ‘let’s go get pizza and soda, and, you know, give out trophies at the end of the year.'”

-“I don’t think the gap [between Villanova and St. Joseph’s] was ever tight.”