Villanova tries to snare Big 5 again, visits St. Joseph’s

After a week off for final exams, Villanova will look to capture a share of the Philadelphia Big 5 crown — again — Saturday when the Wildcats visit St. Joseph’s.

Villanova (5-5) has beaten the Hawks (4-5) in the past 10 meetings of the annual clash known as the “Holy War.”

The Wildcats, who haven’t lost to the Hawks since Dec. 17, 2011, have won the Big 5 seven of the past eight times the series has been played — the pandemic precluded the 2020-21 series, with only Penn (2018-19) interrupting Villanova’s stretch of crowns since 2013-14.

The Cats are 2-1 this season and can match Temple at 3-1 by beating St. Joseph’s.

Last Saturday, Villanova defeated Boston College 77-56, for its fourth consecutive win, as Cam Whitmore posted 19 points and seven rebounds in Newark, N.J.

The highly touted freshman missed the first seven games following surgery on his right thumb, and the Wildcats haven’t lost since he joined the lineup.

“If you go look around the country, there’s not a lot of freshmen playing heavy minutes,” Villanova head coach Kyle Neptune said, “for a reason — it’s tough.

“There are bigger bodies than you see in high school and there is way more of a scheme you have to follow. You have to understand offensive concepts, defensive concepts. You’re playing against high-level coaching. It’s tough.

“We knew coming into the year we had a team with a lot of really talented young guys. We knew their best basketball would come towards the end of the season. I still believe that’s true. We still have a lot of room to grow.”

Saint Joseph’s soundly defeated Saint Peter’s, 73-57, last Saturday. Cameron Brown led the Hawks with 17 points and Erik Reynolds II added 15.

Brown has been consistent all season with his work ethic and energy, Hawks coach Billy Lange said.

“He lives like that,” said Lange, a former assistant at Villanova under Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright. “He does whatever the next right thing is.”

The Hawks, who were picked 13th in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, have been a pleasant surprise. Reynolds (19.0), Brown (12.7) and Lynn Greer III (10.4) are all averaging in double figures in scoring.

–Field Level Media