Simon would eventually extend his streak of St. John's points to seven, and a three-point play by Ponds with 5:37 remaining extended the visitors' lead to nine, 63-54.
The Wildcats trailed at the half for only the fourth time this season as St. John's pressed up on their 3-point shooters and hustled to double team.
The Red Storm shot 55.6 percent from the field and held the advantage, 39-34, thanks in no small part to 15 points from Ponds, who connected on 5 of 10 attempts from the field.
Villanova didn't take its first lead in the game until Mikal Bridges' jumper from the foul line gave his team a 21-20 lead. The lead changed hands twice after that with Brunson's 3-point basket putting the Wildcats back in front 29-28 but Bryan Trimble answered with his own trey as St. John's regained the lead.
Ponds scored six of the Red Storm's final eight points on a scoop, a tip-in, and a stepback 15-footer from the baseline. Simon broke the Villanova press to score on the half's last possession, and the visitors led by five.
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