March 10 Donte DiVincenzo never planned to set a career-high with 25 points. It just happened within the flow of the game.
Still, DiVincenzo's impressive performance carried second-ranked Villanova to a commanding 108-67 victory over St. John's in the quarterfinal round of the Big East tournament Thursday afternoon at New York's Madison Square Garden.
"Just come in and bring energy, bring energy defensively, get as many rebounds as we possibly can," said DiVincenzo, a redshirt freshman. "And when there's so much attention to players as good as Josh (Hart) and as good as Kris (Jenkins), you find yourself open. And when you find yourself open, just make a play, whether it's a shot, extra pass or get in the lane."
Aside from DiVincenzo's team-leading 25 points, Jenkins added 24 and Villanova advanced to face either fourth-seeded Marquette or fifth-seeded Seton Hall in the semifinals on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET.
DiVincenzo shot 7 of 8 from the field, including 5 of 6 from 3-point territory, while contributing five rebounds and four assists.
Eric Paschall scored 17 points and Hart had 15 for the top-seeded Wildcats (29-3), who never trailed against the eighth-seeded Red Storm.
Jalen Brunson scored 14 points, while deep reserve Dylan Painter posted career highs of 10 points and six rebounds as Villanova shot a sizzling 36 of 57 (63.2 percent) as a group on its way to a tournament record in points scored.
The 41-point margin of victory tied the Big East tournament record originally set when Syracuse
defeated Boston College 96-55 on March 3, 1999.
"I think ... we have seniors," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "Josh Hart. Kris was outstanding offensively, but Josh Hart just set the tone defensively on the boards, getting shots for his teammates, not trying to do too many things, not trying to prove he's Player of the Year in the conference. Just going out there and playing for his teammates.
"I thought that was really impressive. And obviously, Kris was great offensively and Donte just continues to get better for us every day."
Bashir Ahmed and Marcus LoVett led St. John's (14-19) with 12 points apiece. The Red Storm haven't moved to the semifinals since 2000.
"Villanova is one of the best teams in the country," St. John's coach Chris Mullin said. "So give all credit to them. And we welcome that. That was a good position to be in, to be able to play in today's game. So no regrets."
The Wildcats didn't relax at all after building a 26-point halftime advantage. A deep 3-pointer by DiVincenzo pushed the lead to 64-31. Jenkins swished a short jumper for a 72-39 advantage with 12:56 left and the rout was on.
Villanova was in control from the opening tip and moved ahead 21-8 following a 9-0 run and seven straight misses by the Red Storm.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 38-18 when Hart hit a spinning layup with 4:15 remaining.
In the final minute, DiVincenzo knocked down a pair of 3-pointers. Jenkins added a trey at the buzzer for a commanding 52-26 advantage heading into the locker room. Jenkins led all scorers at halftime with 14 points.
Villanova shot 17 of 33 while St. John's was just 12 of 30 in the first half.
-- Villanova continued its dominance with its 15th straight win over St. John's.
-- Wildcats G Josh Hart was named Big East Player of the Year. Hart is also a finalist for two more national Player of the Year awards -- the Wooden Award and the Naismith Award.
-- St. John's G Shamorie Ponds had scored in double figures 30 times this season but was held to nine against Villanova.
-- In a rare feat, the Wildcats didn't commit a foul in the entire first half.
-- Villanova G Mikal Bridges played sparingly at the start before going to the locker room with a reported stomach virus.