St. John's basketball upsets Villanova for first on-campus victory since 1993

The St. John's basketball team found its signature victory in Big East on the road against Villanova.

Jan 6, 2024; Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA; St. John's Red Storm forward Brady Dunlap (44) hits a
Jan 6, 2024; Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA; St. John's Red Storm forward Brady Dunlap (44) hits a / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It feels like its going to be a season of snapping streaks for the St. John's basketball program.

The most recent?

Its first on-campus road victory against Villanova since 1993 after going wire-to-wire inside Finneran Pavilion, 81-71.

"It was an awesome performance by our guys," Rick Pitino said.

Indeed it was and it did not take long for the Johnnies to assert themselves with a 10-0 run start the game and, unlike in previous years at 'The Finn', there was no letup in the Red Storm.

The biggest reason for not having many lapses was Joel Soriano, who dominated Villanova star center Eric Dixon.

Soriano ended with 20 points and eight rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting as Dixon had 14 points, but was 4-of-18 from the floor and 2-of-10 from 3-point range.

"We had to bring in 11 new players and thank God he stayed, because he's the captain," Pitino said about Soriano.

"He's so much fun to coach because his attitude is tremendous. It's all about winning, it's never about him. It's just about the team."

Villanova, which was playing without All-Big East guard Justin Moore (sprained knee) for the fifth straight game, would make one last push to mount a comeback but after seven straight points, Brady Dunlap, the recent revelation for the Johnnies came through again with a 3-pointer that put the game out of reach.

Dunlap, who got the first start of his career due to the absence of Chris Ledlum (ankle), finished with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, 3-of-5 coming from 3-point range, after his 13-point performance against Butler.

"Brady is a fun guy to be around," Soriano said. "He takes some crazy shots [in practice], but he rarely misses."

"With him, it was more of a confidence thing...and believing in himself, because we believe in him."

The lead grew to as many as 15 points, 24-9, in the first half but a lackadaisical end to the opening stanza saw Villanova 10-5, 3-1 Big East) get back within six points, 34-28, the closest the 'Cats had been since it was 6-0.

St. John's (11-4, 3-1 Big East) would start the second half very much like the first with an 8-2 run and keep its lead comfortable throughout, extending it to as many as 17 points, 67-50, with 5:26 remaining as "Let's Go Johnnies" chants sounded around the arena and Villanova fans exited with a smattering of boos.

Daniss Jenkins controlled things for the Johnnies in the backcourt with 18 points, five assists, and three steals.

"I feel this is only the beginning for us," Soriano stated. "We are more connected. Guys are more in tune to what we need to do to be the team that we need to be."

St. John's, winners in five of its last six games, and off to its best start in Big East play since 2010-11 will return to Madison Square Garden and host the No. 23 Providence Friars (11-4, 2-2 Big East) on Wednesday night (6:30 p.m. ET, FoxSports1).

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