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Late push gets Villanova past St. John’s

Jan 20, 2023; New York, New York, USA;  St. John's Red Storm guard Andre Curbelo (3) falls into the stands chasing a loose ball in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Daniels scored 16 points as visiting Villanova rallied down the stretch for an 57-49 victory over St. John’s on Friday night at New York.

Villanova (10-10, 4-5 Big East) earned its second straight win and overcame a six-point deficit in the final eight-plus minutes by ending on a 19-5 run.

Daniels scored 11 points to keep Villanova in the game during a choppy first half and shot 5 of 10 for the game while making four 3-pointers. Brandon Slater added all of his 14 points in the second half as the Wildcats shot 36.5 percent from the field but struggled inside the 3-point line.

While the Wildcats made 8 of 24 tries from 3-point range (33.3 percent), they went 11 of 28 elsewhere (39.2 percent). Villanova’s Eric Dixon missed his first eight shots before hitting the go-ahead basket with 4:31 remaining for a 47-46 lead. Dixon was held to seven points with 11 rebounds.

St John’s Joel Soriano shook off an early injury scare and notched his NCAA-best 17th double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds. The Red Storm (13-7, 3-6) was unable to win its third straight game.

Soriano appeared to be shaken up on the game’s first possession when he collided with Dixon but after limping off the court, he returned after the first media timeout.

Dylan Addae-Wusu added 12 points as St. John’s shot a season-low 32.1 percent from the field and committed 17 turnovers.

Soriano reached his latest double-double by snatching the rebound of a Mark Armstrong 3-point attempt with 13:33 remaining, and it set up a layup by David Jones for a 39-35 lead. The Red Storm opened a 44-38 lead on a 3-pointer by AJ Storr with 8:32 left before Villanova began pulling away.

Dixon scored his first basket when he outmuscled Soriano in for a jumper in the low post to give Villanova its first lead with 4:31 remaining. The Wildcats took a 51-46 lead on a basket by Mark Armstrong with 2:23 remaining that capped a 13-2 run and made enough plays the rest of the way.

Soriano’s dunk got St. John’s within 51-48 with 2:05 remaining. After the Red Storm’s Andre Curbelo missed the rim on a reverse layup try with 55 seconds left, Dixon split a pair at the line with 25 seconds left and Slater coasted in for a dunk to make it 54-48 four seconds later to seal it.

–Field Level Media