PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jay Wright expected another classic city rivalry game, where fans are rowdy and the score tight until the final buzzer.
So often, the tense finishes are in the DNA of Philly hoops, no matter the records.
Just not this one.
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.
"I thought of every possible scenario but this one," said Wright, in his 13th season coaching the Wildcats. "We just made every shot. It was unbelievable. It just happens once in a while. We have good shooters. You're bound to have one of those nights."
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 with a 59-point 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.
"We're playing good basketball because sticking with what we do," Bell said. "We're defending. We're rebounding. We're getting what we want out of doing what we do. It's very enjoyable to do it the right way."
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.
"The great value of the Big 5, for us, is, No. 1, you maintain the tradition in Philadelphia," Wright said.
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 hit 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 in transition and Pinkston followed with a three-point play for a 59-40 lead and put this one away.
"Pinkston got a lot of offensive rebounds that helped them," Bembry said. "What's the other dude's name? Yeah, Bell. He didn't really do too much. He just knocked down open shots. We couldn't recover from that."
Saint Joseph's missed all nine 3-point attempts in the second half after it made four in the first 20 minutes.
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.
"I thought this game would go through Bell and Pinkston," Martelli said. "We planned a certain way and it didn't come to fruition."
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."
The Hawks needed more than a prayer to handle the Wildcats.
"It was an onslaught," Martelli said.