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St. John’s Still Falls to No. 1 Villanova After Valiant Effort

St. John’s took No. 1 Villanova (22-3, 12-1) to the wire in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center,  before falling to the Wildcats, 73-63.

Amar Alibegovic had a career-high of 18 points, to go with six rebounds, contributing to the four Red Storm players scoring double-figures.

Wildcats’ Daniel Ochefu scored a game-high 25 points converting 11-of-14 field goal attempts. Ryan Arcidiacono put up 13 points to help Villanova to its fifth-straight win and second victory as the No. 1 team in the nation.

St. John’s freshman Malik Ellison scored his third double-figure performance with 11 points. Durand Johnson and Ron Mvouika had 10 points each. Alibegovic hit his first of four 3s just six seconds after checking into the game midway through the first half. Mvouika followed him with a triple, sending St. John’s up 9-8 with 12:30 left of the first.

The Red Storm outscored Villanova 10-4 in the last five minutes of the first half to get within one point at the break. Mvouika and Johnson scored consecutive 3s and Ellison made the score 28-27 with a layup two seconds before the break.

The St. John’s deficit did not grow bigger than eight within the first 7 minutes of the second half. Ochefu and Josh Hart had nine boards each, leading Villanova’s 37-28 advantage on the glass. The Wildcats were on fire in the paint, scoring 34 points, 22 coming from Ochefu.

Yankuba Sima had two blocks within seven minutes, in just his third game after missing a month due to an injury. Kassoum Yakwe scored eight points and had five rebounds, while Ellison had a game-high five assists.

DePaul visits St. John’s (7-19, 0-13) Wednesday at Carnesecca Arena. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. with the national telecast airing on CBS Sports Network.

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