Villanova tops St. Joe's for 20th straight Big Five win

The last time Villanova won a Big Five game by less than double digits was against St. Joseph’s.

That, of course, is going on five years ago.

Saturday at Hagan Arena, by far the most heated rivalry in the city series resumed. And not unexpectedly, the fourth-ranked Wildcats (8-0) continued their dominance over everyone else in Philly.

If the Hawks (4-4) were whole, who knows what might have been possible. But they’re a long way from it. Point guard Lamarr Kimble is out for the season with a broken foot. Forward Charlie Brown Jr. has a wrist injury and hasn’t played yet.

Villanova, meanwhile, has six guys who can play for just about anyone. Big man Omari Spellman didn’t start, because he was a pound over on his weight goal. Didn’t matter.

This was the Wildcats’ first true road game.

This time, the final was 94-53.

It was Villanova’s 20th straight Big Five win, and 18th in a row by at least 10.

“They have a way of  trying to win every possession,” said St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli. “If our kids want to know what the top looks like, that’s it.

“There’s nothing they miss.”

It was a two-point game with just under four minutes left in the first half. Then the Wildcats hit four consecutive three-point shots, from three players, the last two from Spellman, to make it 41-27 at the break.

They scored the first five of the second half, and 14 of the first 16. That’s a 26-2 run. That’s what happens when you’re making 10 of 12 shots, 8 for 8 from the arc.

They would hit 10 straight treys, and finish 19 for 35 from deep, which set a program record for threes.

Mikal Bridges had 18 points and nine rebounds. Phil Booth scored 17, to go with eight boards and six assists. He had a career-high four threes. Jalen Brunson added 14 points, with 11 coming early, and six assists. Spellman scored 16 and had 11 rebounds.

St. Joe’s got 14 from James Demery, on 17 shots.

“They’ve got two starters out, and we played great,” said Villanova coach Jay Wright. “Rather than the next shot, we took the best shot. You have to have some guys who’ve been through it.

“It’s hard to (win every possession). But we want to. We don’t do it all the time, but we try.”

Four nights earlier, Villanova had beaten Penn by 28 at Jake Nevin Field House.

The Wildcats had taken the four previous meetings by a combined 105 points. Last season, they won by 31 at the Pavilion.

“I guess we just learn from the older guys how important every next game is,” Booth said. “I don’t know the reason why (we dominate these games). I’m just glad we do play well.”

Villanova will play No. 15 Gonzaga Tuesday in New York, followed by La Salle at the Wells Fargo Center and at Temple.

The Hawks get the Owls next, also on North Broad, in seven days.