The 69th edition of the "Holy War" between the St. Joseph's Hawks and Villanova Wildcats proved a back and forth battle, but behind a late three from guard James Bell and some late St. Joe's miscues, Villanova prevailed, 65-61.
The Wildcats' victory brings the all-time series record to 44-25 in favor of Villanova, which extended its all-time series lead at home in The Pavilion. Villanova has now won three of its last seven meetings with the Hawks.
Neither team could put any distance between themselves and their rival throughout the game, as the largest lead either team held was five points. It was no different in the final minutes as the teams traded buckets down the stretch. St. Joe's pulled ahead by five with just more than two minutes left before Villanova reeled off nine unanswered points.
With St. Joe's down two points, 63-61, the Hawks got the ball back with just more than 10 seconds remaining, but St. Joe's could get a good look at a game-tying bucket or a 3-pointer on its first try. After Villanova forced St. Joe's to inbound the ball again, Hawks forward Halil Kanacevic unsuccessfully tried to bounce the inbounds pass off the Wildcats defender, instead bouncing it off his own leg to seal the Villanova victory.
Bell led a team effort for the Wildcats, as he and JayVaughn Pinkston scored a team-high 12 points. Bell and Pinkston's effort kept St. Joe from using guard Langston Galloway's 22 points to get the road victory.