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Final Score: No. 9 Villanova 57, St. John's 54

Villanova survives a matinee thriller against the Johnnies

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Guard Darrun Hilliard scored 18 points as No. 9 Villanova fended off the Red Storm of St. John's, 57-54.

Hilliard went 6-for-8 from the field, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, leading the Wildcats (24-3, 12-2) in scoring Saturday afternoon. Fellow guard Ryan Arcidiacono contributed 12 points on 33% shooting. Forward Daniel Ochefu pulled down 10 rebounds, nine on the defensive glass, to go with 5 points.

It was a poor shooting day for both teams, with Villanova shooting 39% and the Johnnies (18-10, 8-7) connecting on just 32% of their attempts. St. John's guard D'Angelo Harrison was just 4-for-15 from the field, as he led the Red Storm with 15 points. Forward JaKarr Sampson added a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards, and guard Rysheed Jordan had 13.

The Wildcats came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, opening with an 8-0 run thanks in part by two 3-pointers from HIlliard. Phil Greene IV, who finished with nine points, would respond for St. John's with two three's in transition. Both teams would trade leads throughout the first half, as both struggled to knock down shots before Nova took a 29-28 lead into the half.

Hilliard would connect with his fourth tre of the game to open up the second half, followed by Josh Hart, who banged his first 3-pointer in almost a month. Jordan would keep the Johnnies into it, penetrating the lane and making a few tough shots. But Arcidiacono would put the final nail in St. John's coffin with a step-back three to make it 53-50 late in the game.