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Saturday, February 26, 2011
Rapid Reaction: St. John's 81, Villanova 68

By Kieran Darcy

Recap | Box score | Photos

PHILADELPHIA -- A quick take on No. 25 St. John's 81-68 win over No. 14 Villanova on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center:

WHAT IT MEANS: St. John's (19-9, 11-5 in Big East) has now six games in a row, its longest winning streak of the season. This is the Red Storm's sixth win over a ranked opponent (tying their amount from 1999-2000, the last time they had more than three). But it's the first time they've done it on the road. In fact, it's their first road win versus a ranked opponent since Jan. 17, 2002 (against No. 22 Boston College).

St. John's now stands in third place alone in the Big East, with two games to play.

Villanova drops to 21-8, and 9-7 in the Big East.

THE SKINNY: St. John's exploded out of the gate in this one, taking an 18-4 lead just over four minutes in, thanks to four quick treys -- two by Dwight Hardy. The Red Storm -- who average only 4.1 treys per game, the ninth-fewest in all of Division I -- drained eight of them (on 18 attempts) in the first half alone. But Villanova clawed its way back to just a 41-36 deficit at intermission.

St. John's expanded the lead back out to as many as nine early in the second half, but Villanova clawed back again. The Wildcats got as close as a single point, 65-64, with exactly four minutes remaining. But they could not get over the hump. The Red Storm withstood the Villanova surge, and made all the big plays down the stretch to secure the victory.

HIGH PRAISE: Hardy has all but locked up making first team All-Big East and is a serious candidate for Big East Player of the Year. Hardy had a career-high 34 points -- his fourth game of the season with 30 or more, and 12th with at least 20 -- shooting 9-for-16 from the field, 5-for-9 from 3-point range and 11-for-13 from the foul line.

ON THE OTHER HAND: Villanova's leading scorer, Corey Fisher (16.0 ppg), was a total non-factor on Saturday. In fact, he was even worse than that. Fisher finished with just two points, on 1-for-10 shooting from the field.

WHAT'S NEXT: St. John's will play Seton Hall in Newark on Thursday. Villanova will play at No. 9 Notre Dame on Monday.