New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - JayVaughn Pinkston had 15 points and 10 rebounds and No. 8 Villanova pulled away from St. John's 74-67 on Saturday afternoon.
Josh Hart tallied 14 points and five rebounds off the bench and Ryan Arcidiacono added 13 points for the Wildcats (15-1, 4-0 Big East), who have won four straight since their lone loss of the season Dec. 28 at Syracuse.
"I thought St. John's played really well. Their defense was outstanding." Villanova head coach Jay Wright said.
De'Angelo Harrison had 22 points and Rysheed Jordan chipped in 12 points to lead St. John's (9-6, 0-3), which has dropped three straight.
"We aren't worried," Red Storm forward JaKarr Sampson said of the team's 0-3 start in conference play. "I felt like we played a good game today and we are only going to get better each day."
Neither team led by more than six before an 8-0 Wildcats run helped them seize control of the contest late in the second half.
Arcidiacono's cross-court pass found a wide-open Kris Jenkins along the left wing and he drained the triple. After Pinkston sunk a pair of free throws, Arcidiacono dove onto the floor to force a tie-up. The possession arrow was in the Wildcats' favor and Darrun Hilliard knocked down a right corner 3 a bit later to stake Villanova a 63-56 cushion with 5:00 left.
Sampson hit a pair of foul shots before Harrison followed suit a possession later to pull St. John's within 67-63 with 48 ticks left, but the Red Storm never got any closer.
Hart split a pair and then stole the ball away from Jordan and converted a layup to increase the advantage back to 70-63. Hart was unable to complete the three-point play.
The Red Storm took a 33-31 edge into the locker room.
Villanova shot just 25.9 percent (7-of-27) in the first half but got to the foul line 19 times and sunk 15 of those attempts.