PHILADELPHIA (AP) — With the crowd getting loud and the underdog closing in, No. 8 Villanova turned to its leader, and Ryan Arcidiacono delivered. Arcidiacono scored 17 points, including a pivotal 3 in the second half, and the Wildcats beat Saint Joseph's 86-72 on Tuesday night.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — With the crowd getting loud and the underdog closing in, No. 8 Villanova turned to its leader, and Ryan Arcidiacono delivered.
Arcidiacono scored 17 points, including a pivotal 3 in the second half, and the Wildcats beat Saint Joseph's 86-72 on Tuesday night.
"I just remember they went on a little run and the place was going crazy," Arcidiacono said. "(Jalen Brunson) made an amazing pass. I caught to shoot and made the shot."
Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart each scored 18 points to pace Villanova (7-0). The Wildcats have won four in a row against the Hawks in the Philadelphia Big Five series.
"That's a good win for our team," coach Jay Wright said. "It's a tough environment and good team. When you come out of that with a win, you feel good about your team."
"I know the history. I've gone to these games where teams are nationally ranked and the underdog upsets them in a Big Five game," he said.
DeAndre Bembry scored 17 points and Isaiah Miles contributed 14 for the Hawks (4-2).
Villanova matched its biggest lead of the game on Brunson's 3-pointer from the left wing that made it 52-37 with 17:28 left. Miles scored seven points in a 12-2 run that pulled the Hawks within 54-49 with 14:06 to play.
Arcidiacono came back with the Wildcats' 11th 3-pointer of the game.
"When teams go on runs and we're finding some adversity, he's our leader," Hart said. "He's the guy that has that ready-to-go attitude."
The Wildcats made eight 3-pointers in the opening half and finished 11 for 31 from behind the arc.
"I don't think we rotated out in scramble mode," Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "I thought we got a little frozen. You have to go out with your hair on fire. We were stuck. The rotations weren't hard enough."
Villanova slowly rebuilt its lead to double digits, going up 11 with 8:38 left on Mikal Bridges' layup after a stellar assist from Arcidiacono.
The Wildcats never were threatened from that point, and they left Martelli impressed.
"They're good on offense, they're great on defense, but their intangibles are so far off the charts," Martelli said. "That team, no mistaking it, they play fierce."
Villanova big man Daniel Ochefu was called for his second foul 1:17 into the game and played just four minutes in the first half. He began the night averaging 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and finished with nine points and four rebounds in 17 minutes.
The Wildcats are off until playing Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor on Monday and then won't play again until Dec. 13. Wright says he'll use the next two weeks as a mini-training camp in addition to history class.
"Our guys are going to learn a lot about Pearl Harbor," Wright said. "We're going to use it as a little training camp and then get a great game in there against Oklahoma."
TWO DECADES AND COUNTING
Martelli, in his 21st season, is one of nine coaches in the country who have been with the same school for at least two decades.
The Hawks' cozy home court, which can hold just 4,200 fans, is known to give opponents fits.
"It's always crazy," Arcidiacono said. "It's a great environment. It was fun, intense. This is a tough place to play."
The teams played the first game of the Big Five on Dec. 14, 1955, an 83-70 win for Saint Joseph's. Villanova leads the all-time series 48-23. The schools are separated by 6.7 miles. ... Wright improved to 11-4 vs. the Hawks. ... Saint Joseph's entered sixth in the NCAA in total blocks (32) but had zero in the game.
Villanova travels to Hawaii to play Oklahoma in the Pearl Harbor Invitational on Monday night.
Saint Joseph's plays at Columbia on Friday night.