By Ken Cross
St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds followed up his 33-point effort in Saturday’s 81-77 win over Duke with 26 points as he led the Red Storm to their second shocking upset in five days, downing Villanova, 79-75, on Wednesday evening.
Bashir Ahmed’s layup with 16:59 remaining gave the Red Storm the lead at 43-41 and they would never trail again. SJU went on a quick 9-2 run to push the lead to 50-43 and had the answer every time Villanova knocked.
The Wildcats’ Collin Gillespie nailed a triple with 25 seconds remaining to cut the St. John’s lead to 74-73, but Ponds and Marvin Clark iced the game with five free throws afterward.
It was the Red Storm’s first Big East win after an 0-11 start as they have been without guard Marcus Lovett, the team’s second leading scorer. It was also the Johnnies’ first win over a No. 1 team in 33 years as coach Chris Mullin was the star of the squad.
Villanova played without Eric Paschall who was out with a concussion as well as Phil Booth, who was sidelined Jan. 24 with a bone fracture in his right hand. Paschall is the leading three-point marksman in the Big East as he has netted 54.8 percent of his tries. Villanova was 8-of-33 from behind the arc as it never found a rhythm.