The odds were stacked pretty heavily against St. John’s in the final moments of overtime. St. John’s freshman guard D’Angelo Harrison had scored a career-high 28 points despite playing just 31 minutes and fouling out with 1:52 to go in the extra session.
The Red Storm was being heavily outrebounded, a margin that would total minus-16 by game’s end. And the youngest squad in college basketball had turned the ball over 21 times, even while forcing 23 from Villanova.
But St. John's assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who runs the team while head coach Steve Lavin continues his recovery from prostate cancer surgery on October 6, didn't want to hear about any statistic except one.
"We left the game on the free-throw line, it was that simple," he said of the Red Storm's 14-of-25 effort, including going 3-of-8 from there in overtime. "You can talk about the rebounds and you can talk about the turnovers (21), but the bottom line is free throws are easy baskets and when you miss 11 of those it's real simple, something you have to do better."
Villanova junior guard Maalik Wayns scored 28 points, his third-straight game with at least 25, and Villanova beat St. John's 79-76 in overtime Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
St. John's led 60-50 with 6:49 to play in regulation, but the Wildcats were able to tie it at 67 on a jumper by Wayns with 30 seconds left in regulation.
Villanova opened the overtime on an 8-1 run, but the win wasn't sealed until Wayns made two free throws with 22 seconds left that made it 79-76. St. John's freshman Sir'Dominic Pointer missed a possible tying 3-pointer with three seconds left.
Dominic Cheek had 20 points and JayVaughn Pinkston added 13 points and 12 rebounds for Villanova (10-10, 3-5).
Forward Moe Harkless had 16 points for the Red Storm (8-11, 2-6), who lost its fourth straight and sixth of seven, while point guard Phil Greene added a season-high 14. They are two of the four freshmen who start for St. John's, which plays just seven players.
“I don't think we ran out of gas,” DeAngelo Harrison said of losing the double-digit lead in regulation. “We played tentative with the lead. We have to be more aggressive. They got easy baskets and you can't have those when you have the lead.”
Harkless made 4-of-9 free throws for the Red Storm, who came in shooting 69 percent from the line. Villanova was 15-of-26 from the free-throw line, well off their conference-leading 76.4 percent coming in.