VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl scored 25 points with a broken nose, Caleb Daniels had 19 points and No. 7 Villanova beat Saint Joseph’s 88-68 in a hastily-scheduled game Saturday night.
Robinson-Earl played with a protective mask after breaking his nose in Wednesday’s win against Butler. The 6-foot-9 forward tested the NBA waters before deciding to return for a sophomore season at Villanova. He helped the Wildcats (7-1) turn this one into a rout in the second half with 8-of-14 shooting overall, and he made seven of Villanova’s 11 free throws, added seven rebounds and never seemed bothered by his injury.
The winless Hawks (0-4) made it a game for a while and trailed by eight at halftime, the latest to force somewhat of a competitive score against Villanova until the Wildcats pulled away. Georgetown led by 18 against Villanova last Friday and lost by 13, and this one got out of hand in a hurry.
Villanova got a 3-pointer from Robinson-Earl and Justin Moore’s fastbreak dunk off a turnover made it 58-43. Daniels, fitting right in after transferring from Tulsa, buried a 3 for a 25-point lead, and there was no slowing down the Wildcats.
The mismatch was a late addition for both teams after Villanova’s scheduled game against Virginia at Madison Square Garden was scratched this week. The Wildcats vs. Cavaliers was one of the more anticipated games on the college basketball schedule: Villanova, the 2016 and 2018 national champions against the 2019 champs Virginia. But Virginia paused activity because of COVID-19 issues within its program and the game will not be rescheduled.
Saint Joseph’s-Villanova is usually the must-watch game on the Philadelphia hoops scene, even as the Wildcats have become the class of the city and lead the series 52-25. The scheduled matchup was delayed 20 days because Saint Joseph’s had its own COVD-19 issues.
The Hawk mascot that normally flaps its wings had the night off, and only piped-in crowd noise gave the empty Pavilion any kind of atmosphere.
The Hawks looked worn down, and star guard Ryan Daly, who averaged 20.7 points, was held to just 11 and failed to hit a 3-pointer in his stiffest test of the season. Taylor Funk and Jordan Hall each scored 17 points for the Hawks.
Moore scored 18 points and Jermaine Samuels had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Saint Joseph’s plays No. 10 Tennessee on Monday to complete its first set of back-to-back games against top-10 teams since 2006 when it lost to No. 4 Villanova and No. 8 George Washington. Saint Joseph’s last win at Villanova came on Feb 2, 2004 and the Hawks are now 2-14 in games played at Villanova.
The Wildcats keep rolling and gave coach Jay Wright his 601st career victory. The Wildcats are now 311-63 lifetime in the Pavilion.
Saint Joseph’s continues its rugged schedule Monday with a game at No. 10 Tennessee.
Villanova plays Wednesday at Marquette. The Wildcats’ scheduled Dec. 30 game against St. John’s was scratched because Wright said “players needed a break.”
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