Holy War (Villanova Vs. St. Joe's)
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Holy War Villanova Vs. St. Joe's
The Holy War
SportNCAA Division 1 Basketball
First meetingJanuary 15, 1921
Villanova Victory
Latest meetingDecember 7, 2019
Villanova, 78-66
Meetings total76
All-time seriesVillanova leads, 51-25
Longest win streakVillanova, 8
Current win streakVillanova, 8
Locations in the Greater Philadelphia Area

The Holy War is a basketball rivalry game in the Philadelphia Big 5 between Saint Joseph's University and Villanova University, which is considered the most intense of all the Big 5 games. It's called the "Holy War" because both universities have Roman Catholic religious affiliations: Villanova University is Augustinian, and Saint Joseph's University is run by the Jesuit order. Recent games between the two schools have been played either at the Palestra on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania when Saint Joseph's hosts the game, or at The Pavilion when Villanova is the host. However, the Hawks hosted the Wildcats at the newly expanded Hagan Arena on Saint Joseph's campus on December 17, 2011 and will continue to do so in future years.

Villanova leads the all-time series, 51-25 and 39-24 as members of the Big 5. Don DiJulia, athletic director at Saint Joseph's has called the rivalry the "Army-Navy of basketball".[1]

History of the programs

Category Hawks Wildcats
NCAA Championships 0 3
NCAA Championship Appearances 0 4
Players with All-America Honors 10 24
NBA Draft Picks 33 62
Naismith Coach of the Year 1 2
NCAA Final Fours 1 6
Elite Eights 3 14
Sweet Sixteens 7 18
NCAA Tournament Berths 21 39
NCAA Tournament Wins 19 65
Big 5 Championships 20 27
NIT Championships 0 1

The Origin of the Series, Prior to the Formation of the Big Five

Villanova played SJU (then St. Joseph's College) twice, during the Wildcats' first ever season on the hardwood, which took place during the 1920-21 school year. The first contest took place on January 15, 1921, on the Main Line, with 'Nova winning 31-22. In the return game, Villanova completed the sweep by prevailing 24-14. The teams clashed often during the 1920s, but after the 1930 game, the series lay dormant for a long time. In the ensuing quarter-century, the only meeting was in 1939.[2] Villanova had won eleven of the twelve meetings since the first game took place in 1921, until the formation of the Big Five in the 1955-56 season.

Beginning of Big Five rivalry

When the Big Five got rolling, it was SJU's turn to dominate the series for the next decade before Villanova turned the tide. The Hawks won the first six City Series games and ten of the first twelve. The two schools had the honor of clashing in the first-ever Big Five contest at the Palestra, on December 14, 1955- St. Joe's won, 83-70. Starting with the 1958 game, every single VU/SJU game attracted a sellout or near-sellout crowd at the Palestra, with the high attendance continuous for all games since then, regardless of venue. The attendance for the 1957 game climbed to 5,659, but since then the Palestra was packed to the rafters for Villanova/St. Joe's.[3]Villanova now leads the series 37-23 since both schools became members of the Big Five.

Modern era match-ups

February 20, 1971/March 13, 1971-- The Porter-led Wildcats will go 23-6 and reach the NCAA championship game before bowing to John Wooden's UCLA dynasty. But en route, they meet St. Joe's twice in one season, for the first time since 1923. In the City Series game, Villanova triumphs 63-55, although Hawks center Mike Bantom outplays Howard Porter. The schools would meet again at the Palestra, in the first round of the NCAA tournament (the only time, before or since, the Holy War has extended to postseason play). 'Nova won in a rout, 93-75.

February 19, 1977--The first City Series game away from the Palestra, as the Villanova/St. Joe's game goes to the Spectrum, to accommodate more fans for both schools. The Wildcats win 92-78, in front of 12,138 fans.

February 22, 1983--In the second Spectrum game in the series, a record throng of 18,060 witnesses a 70-62 Wildcat victory, the most to ever witness a Holy War.

February 19, 1985--It was the annus mirabilis (in Latin, the "year of miracles") on the Main Line. And perhaps the basketball gods' first sign of favor took place at the Spectrum, in the Holy War. Villanova entered the game having lost three in a row, while the Hawks had won nine straight. Villanova was 3-0 in City Series play, but SJU was 1-1 and could pursue a share of the Big Five title with a victory over the 'Cats. 'Nova started the game on a 9-2 run, but by halftime the Hawks had overtaken them, 22-19. St. Joe's led 30-23 with 14:18 to go, before 'Nova rallied. Ed Pinckney connected on two free throws to draw the Wildcats even at 44 with 3:08 to play. SJU nearly succeeded in holding the ball for three minutes to take the last shot. Dwayne McClain rebounded the errant St. Joe's shot with only four seconds to go. On the inbounds play, McClain hit an 18-footer and was fouled. By converting the three-point play, McClain gave Villanova a 47-44 victory- and the outright Big Five title for the first time since 1967.

December 18, 1994--The Holy War, now taking place every other year due to Villanova's 1991-99 withdrawal from the full round-robin, returns to the Palestra for the first time in over six years. #22 Villanova - at the apex of the Kerry Kittles era - is a heavy favorite over a St. Joe's squad. (The Hawks hadn't reached postseason play since 1986.) But Dmitri Domani hits two key free throws down the stretch, to give St. Joe's a 60-57 upset victory.

December 11, 2000--The Holy War returns to the Palestra. St. Joe's comes close to its long-denied victory over the Wildcats, leading 39-32 at intermission. O'Connor dazzles with 32 points on 11-17 shooting to lead the Hawks. But 'Nova rallies in the second half to come away with a hard-fought, thrilling 78-75 victory. Michael Bradley has a field day in the paint, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Reggie Bryant and Aaron Matthews add 13 for the 'Cats.

January 1, 2002 - In Jay Wright's first Holy War, Villanova defeats St. Joe's 102-73, marking the only time either team has scored 100 points or more in the series.

February 2004--The #3 Hawks entered the Pavilion with a record of 18-0. They would eventually garner a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and reach the Elite Eight. The Wildcats fell to Hawks 74-67. Jameer Nelson and Delonte West combined for 45 points. Mike Nardi led the Wildcat counterattack with 16 points and five assists. A three-pointer from Andreas Bloch cut the Hawk lead to 54-50, with less than nine minutes to play, but that was as close as 'Nova came to an upset.

February 2006-Villanova, holding the #4 ranking in the nation, faced off against St. Joe's at the Palestra in a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Big 5 and with the Big 5 title on the line. With the arena split 50/50 with fans of each school, St. Joe's got off to a blistering start. Villanova looked flat, shooting 30 percent in the first half and trailing 34-22 at halftime. The second half was a different story, Villanova came out running, trapping and scoring at such a rapid rate that St. Joe's was helpless to stop them. A dominating 21-3 run led by Kyle Lowry and Allan Ray turned the game around for good. Lowry scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half and completed the only dunk of his college career.[4][5]

December 2012--The Hawks were leading the Wildcats in the second half of the game at the Pavilion, when St. Joe's Junior Forward Halil Kanacevic drained a 3-pointer with 10 minutes left in the game. He then raised a double-middle-finger to the Villanova Student Section, thrusting "Nova Nation" into wild uproar. The students loudly booed Kanacevic throughout the rest of the game, and Kanacevic proceeded to blow the game for St. Joe's down the stretch with a series of bad plays and fouls; most notable of these was a pair of missed free throws with 45 seconds left in the game, and a turnover with 3 seconds left in the game, costing St. Joe's a chance to tie the game late. Kanacevic finished the game with only the 3 points he scored before flipping the bird, and was slapped with a 2-game suspension by St. Joe's for his actions.

December 1, 2017 - Villanova defeats St. Joe's by a score of 94-53. Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth, Jalen Brunson, and Omari Spellman all scored in double figures. This 41 point victory marked the largest margin of victory in the series. The Wildcats would go on to win the National Championship that year.

All Time Results

Scores of Men's games

St. Joe's victoriesVillanova victories
1 January 15, 1921 The Palestra Villanova 33-22
2 February 16, 1921 The Palestra Villanova 24-14
3 January 25, 1922 The Palestra Villanova 24-18
4 March 4, 1922 The Palestra Villanova 28-26
5 January 20, 1923 The Palestra Villanova 34-33
6 January 31, 1923 The Palestra St. Joe's 26-18
7 January 18, 1924 The Palestra Villanova 24-23
8 January 29, 1925 The Palestra Villanova 32-24
9 February 18, 1926 The Palestra Villanova 25-19
10 January 11, 1927 The Palestra Villanova 30-17
11 January 31, 1929 The Palestra Villanova 35-20
12 February 11, 1930 The Palestra Villanova 22-19
13 February 17, 1939 The Palestra Villanova 36-8
14 December 14, 1955 The Palestra St. Joe's 83-70
15 January 19, 1957 The Palestra St. Joe's 59-51
16 February 12, 1958 The Palestra St. Joe's 86-82
17 January 9, 1959 The Palestra St. Joe's 82-70
18 February 27, 1960 The Palestra St. Joe's 78-75
19 January 28, 1961 The Palestra St. Joe's 64-63
20 March 3, 1962 The Palestra Villanova 66-59
21 December 28, 1962 The Palestra St. Joe's 59-54
22 January 12, 1963 The Palestra Villanova 63-61
23 February 22, 1964 The Palestra St. Joe's 69-63
24 February 20, 1965 The Palestra St. Joe's 69-61
25 January 16, 1966 The Palestra St. Joe's 71-69
26 February 11, 1967 The Palestra Villanova 78-73
27 February 17, 1968 The Palestra St. Joe's 63-54
28 January 11, 1969 The Palestra Villanova 87-62
29 February 7, 1970 The Palestra Villanova 92-65
30 February 20, 1971 The Palestra Villanova 63-55
31 March 13, 1971 Philadelphia, PA Villanova 93-75
32 February 4, 1972 The Palestra St. Joe's 68-65
33 January 27, 1973 The Palestra Villanova 79-72
34 February 23, 1974 The Palestra St. Joe's 59-53
35 February 22, 1975 The Palestra Villanova 71-67
36 February 28, 1976 The Palestra Villanova 71-60
37 February 19, 1977 The Spectrum Villanova 92-78
38 February 25, 1978 The Palestra Villanova 72-64
39 February 9, 1979 The Palestra St. Joe's 54-50
40 February 23, 1980 The Palestra St. Joe's 60-59
41 February 28, 1981 The Palestra Villanova 72-62
42 January 31, 1982 The Palestra St. Joe's 84-64
43 February 22, 1983 The Spectrum Villanova 70-62
44 November 30, 1983 The Palestra Villanova 57-50
45 February 19, 1985 The Palestra Villanova 47-44
46 December 21, 1985 The Palestra St. Joe's 63-61
47 February 19, 1987 Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse Villanova 88-87
48 December 12, 1987 The Pavilion St. Joe's 53-52
49 January 24, 1989 Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse Villanova 69-55
50 January 20, 1990 The Pavilion Villanova 69-62
51 December 8, 1990 Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse Villanova 83-82
52 February 6, 1993 The Palestra St. Joe's 77-66
53 December 18, 1994 Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse St. Joe's 60-57
54 December 10, 1996 Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse Villanova 81-65
55 December 1, 1998 Wells Fargo Center Villanova 61-49
56 February 17, 2000 Wells Fargo Center Villanova 68-61
57 December 11, 2000 The Palestra Villanova 78-75
58 January 28, 2002 The Pavilion Villanova 103-73
59 February 3, 2003 The Palestra St. Joe's 92-75
60 February 2, 2004 The Pavilion St. Joe's 74-67
61 February 7, 2005 The Palestra Villanova 67-52
62 February 6, 2006 The Palestra Villanova 71-58
63 February 6, 2007 The Pavilion Villanova 56-39
64 February 4, 2008 The Palestra St. Joe's 77-55
65 December 11, 2008 The Pavilion Villanova 59-56
66 December 9, 2009 The Palestra Villanova 97-89
67 December 3, 2010 The Pavilion Villanova 71-60
68 December 17, 2011 Hagan Arena St. Joe's 74-58
69 December 11, 2012 The Pavilion Villanova 65-61
70 December 7, 2013 Hagan Arena Villanova 98-68
71 December 6, 2014 The Pavilion Villanova 74-46
72 December 1, 2015 Hagan Arena Villanova 86-72
73 December 3, 2016 The Pavilion Villanova 88-57
74 December 2, 2017 Hagan Arena Villanova 94-53
75 December 8, 2018 Finneran Pavilion Villanova 70-58
76 December 7, 2019 Hagan Arena Villanova 78-66
Series: Villanova leads 51-25



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