NEW YORK (AP) -- Villanova showed right away it was over one of its toughest losses ever.
Taking the court for the first time since losing to No. 8 Georgetown on a foul call 75 feet from the basket with a tenth of a second to play, the Wildcats opened strong and ran away to a 60-42 victory over St. John's on Saturday.
"It is a very young group and it is tough to read them," Villanova coach Jay Wright said of his team. "Before the game in the locker room, they were a little quiet. This is a quiet group and I was concerned if they were ready to play. They seemed down in practice and I was concerned but they came to play today."
"My mind-set was to have a great attitude and be positive and follow my leaders, my captains and coaches," Stokes said.
The Wildcats (15-9, 5-7 Big East), who came in having lost six of seven, opened the game with a 16-2 run on the way to a 29-8 lead, its largest of the first half.
"We have good shooters. We went through a stretch where we didn't make shots," Wright said, referring to the recent struggles. "I think our hitting our outside shots opened it up and helped us a lot and we have had three good defensive efforts in a row."
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova's leading scorer with a 17.1 average, hurt his right ankle with 13:57 to play and did not return. He finished with six points in 21 minutes.
"He was just bringing the ball up. I think he stepped on (Malik) Boothe's foot but he was just bringing the ball up," Wright said. "He asked to go back in. If the lead got down to single digits I would have put him back in."
It was a second straight terrible first half at Madison Square Garden for the Red Storm (10-14, 4-9). In their last outing here against Georgetown, the Red Storm trailed 41-14 at the half, shooting 2-for-16 from the field, on the way to a 74-42 loss, their worst ever in a Big East game.
Villanova had a 31-13 lead at the half Saturday -- St. John's lowest point total in a half this season -- and the Red Storm were 5-for-24 from the field.
The Wildcats opened the second half on 6-2 run for their biggest lead of the game, 37-15 with 17:17 to play.
Anthony Mason Jr., St. John's leading scorer with a 13.5 average, missed the last three games with an ankle injury. He scored the last four points of an 8-0 run that brought the Red Storm to 37-23 with 14:09 left, but Reggie Redding hit a 3 with 13:34 left to break the run. St. John's was never closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
"It was three things," Boothe said. "We weren't hitting shots, we were turning the ball over and they were out-toughing us and getting rebounds. Sometimes that's just the way things go."
Mason finished with 12 points, all in the second half, and nine rebounds for the Red Storm who had a season low in points for the second straight game following a 60-43 loss to Cincinnati earlier this week.
St. John's entered the game 15th in the 16-team conference in 3-point shooting at 33 percent. The Red Storm went 3-for-21 against Villanova.
"We practiced pretty good," St. John's coach Norm Roberts said. "We came out, we tried to play with energy. We missed some shots and we became very young and took some ill-advised shots and they made shots. We need to shoot the ball better."
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