No. 18 Villanova faces Big 5 rival St. Joe's in annual 'Holy War' matchup
No. 18 Villanova will look to extend its winning streak to five when it hosts Big 5 rival Saint Joseph's on Wednesday.
The annual matchup is known as the "Holy War" between the two Philadelphia-area schools, which are located less than eight miles apart.
The Wildcats (6-1) defeated Maryland and then ousted Texas Tech, North Carolina and Memphis to capture the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. Villanova led the Tigers by as many as 35 points before winning 79-63 in the championship game.
Eric Dixon was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after averaging 21.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Justin Moore scored 11 points against Memphis and joined Dixon on the All-Tournament team.
"I'm just proud of my guys and the coaches. We stuck together," Moore said. "We put a lot of work in each and every day. Just us grinding and coming together is what I'm proud of."
Villanova suffered a disappointing 76-72 loss to Penn on Nov. 13.
They haven't lost since.
"We always have a growth mindset," head coach Kyle Neptune said. "I thought we got a lot better defensively, especially these last three games. That's always been our mindset. We learned a lot about our team here. We were tested and were resilient. We were in some battles. That's what you want. You want to be tested.
"That's a big thing for a team. We're glad it ended up the way it did."
Villanova hasn't lost to the Hawks since Dec. 17, 2011.
The Wildcats lead the overall series, 54-25.
Saint Joseph's will look for its second straight win when it battles the Wildcats.
The Hawks (4-2) have been inconsistent through six games with a hard-fought 96-88 overtime loss to Kentucky and a disappointing 57-54 home defeat to Texas A&M-Commerce.
Most recently, Saint Joseph's defeated Sacred Heart 64-55 on Sunday behind 16 points from Cameron Brown.
"We had a tough past nine days, tough two games that we lost but we just want to keep being as united as we can, and we showed up today and were able to get a good win against a good team," Brown said. "A few bumps but we were able to battle through."
Erik Reynolds II and Rasheer Fleming each added 12 points in the bounce-back victory. It still wasn't a smooth win as the Hawks shot 11 of 33 from 3-point territory.
"I think we just gotta stick with what we do because we work on it every day," Reynolds said. "Us just believing in that and believing in the work, we just gotta keep shooting it with confidence. Defense really wins, so as long as we keep doing what we do and being united on that end, we're good."
Head coach Billy Lange implores his team to launch a high volume of threes as long as the team stays active on the boards and also attacks the rim.
"The layups come from the threat of the 3-point shot and the threat of the 3-point shot is because of driving the basketball," said Lange, a former Villanova assistant coach.
--Field Level Media
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