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Nova Romps Past St. Joe’s 98-68 In Holy War

Guard James Bell #32 of the Villanova Wildcats rebounds the ball against the St. Joseph's Hawks on December 7, 2013 at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia. (Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Guard James Bell #32 of the Villanova Wildcats rebounds the ball against the St. Joseph’s Hawks on December 7, 2013 at Hagan Arena in Philadelphia. (Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — James Bell had 25 points and 14 rebounds and JayVaughn Pinkston scored 27 points, keeping No. 14 Villanova unbeaten with a 98-68 win over Saint Joseph’s on Saturday night.

Darrun Hilliard scored 14 points to help the Wildcats (9-0) win their second game this week since joining The AP Top 25. Pinkston and Hilliard pounded the Hawks from inside and out, and the Wildcats dominated the second half to thump their city rival.

Langston Galloway led the Hawks (4-4) with 18 points and DeAndre Bembry had 17.

The Hawks hung around early with some quick 3-pointers before falling into a shooting funk, finishing at 37 percent overall.

The Wildcats kept rolling this week since wins over nationally-ranked Kansas and Iowa secured their Battle 4 Atlantis championship.

Long billed as Philadelphia’s “Holy War,” the city rivalry game was played on Saint Joseph’s campus for only the second time in a series history that stretches to the 1920s. The cozy 4,200-seat fieldhouse was rocking from warm-ups and scalpers were doing brisk business outside for the Big 5 matchup.

Villanova is only about 7 miles away from Saint Joseph’s and plenty of Wildcats fans found their way inside Hagan Arena.

They had plenty to cheer after the opening minutes.

Bembry, a freshman forward, is widely considered one of coach Phil Martelli’s top recruits in years. With an Oscar Gamble afro that adds a couple of more inches to his 6-foot-6 frame, he had Hawk Hill rocking with a pair of 3s that gave Saint Joseph’s a small, early lead.

Galloway buried a 3 for a 28-23 lead, and pounded his chest toward an appreciative crowd, pumping up the Hawks for a potential upset.

The good times ended in a hurry. The Hawks simply had no answer for a Villanova offense that used a series of backdoor cuts and putbacks to methodically take the lead. Plus, the Wildcats were smart and safe with the ball, committing only one turnover in the half and five for the game.

Villanova missed 11 of 14 3-point attempts in the half — but hit one huge momentum builder in the final minutes. Kris Jenkins connected after Villanova grabbed two offensive rebounds on the same series, and the Wildcats took a 39-35 lead into halftime.

Hilliard and Pinkston hits 3s during an 8-0 run to open the second half, 15-2 spanning the first, to build some breathing room. Bell hit two straight 3-pointers and Pinkston followed with a three-point play for a 59-40 lead and put this one away.

Saint Joseph’s failed to make a 3 in the second half after it made four in the first.

Bell made 5 of 10 3s and Pinkston was tough in the paint for a 10-for-15 shooting night, and Villanova hit a season-high scoring total.

The rivalry is heated, not necessarily nasty; note the fan signs: Saint Joseph’s had one that read, “The Pope is a Jesuit,” and Villanova countered with “Jesus Loves Us More.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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