St. John’s went quietly into the night in a 108-67 shellacking at the hands of Villanova. The Red Storm never led in the season ending blowout which tied the largest margin of defeat in tournament history and largest margin of defeat in St. John’s history.
Villanova wasn’t called for one foul in the first half, a twenty minute stretch in which they outscored St. John’s 52-26.
Donte DiVincenzo led Villanova with 25 points off the bench, and doing it while only taking eight shots.
The Red Storm made progress this season but Thursday showed how much work was left for the Johnnies to play with the top team in the conference. Fans were thinking it was code red when the team was 5-7, which included losses to Delaware State and LIU Brooklyn. But St. John’s had some nice wins including a 33-point triumph over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome and a late comeback against Butler at Carnesecca Arena. Despite finishing 14-19, there was certainly progress from last year’s abysmal 8-24 record.
“Progression, individually and collectively,” Mullin said. “And lots to look forward to.”
Giving up at least 50 points in each half to Villanova confirmed the fact that the Johnnies have had a lot of trouble getting stops consistently, or at all. There’s no secret that the Red Storm are an offense-minded team. That didn’t change the fact that they gave up at least 80 points in six of their final eight games. “I think defensively we need to improve,” Mullin said in an understatement. “I do think a lot of that will come with strength and maturity. I think a lot of people, me included, players improve a lot in the offseason. That’s the time to do it.”
As they looks to the future, an emphasis has been placed on recruiting in the city like the St. John’s of old as opposed to the more national look tried in recent years. Mullin was able to get Shamorie Ponds from Brooklyn, and hopefully more city players would be interested. But interest is only one part. “Interest is one thing and getting to be on the team is another,” Mullin said. “That’s always going to be a focal point. We’ll see how that materializes.”
Despite the ugly game against Villanova, the team can at least hang its hat on winning a Big East tournament game for the first time since 2011. “So after all the film sessions and practices and pep talks, halftime talks and all the stuff that goes on, there’s nothing better than those guys going out and proving to themselves that they can perform on that stage,” Mullin said. “And so I thought last night was probably something they’ll remember and take into the offseason and use it as a positive.”