After beating Providence by 30 at home over a month ago, the Friars were ready to get their revenge. There’s something about the Dunkin Donuts Center that just gives teams a hard time. When it comes to Villanova, they were 12-17 all time at Providence’s home court. The Wildcats hadn’t won a game at the Dunkin Donuts Center since February 4, 2009 in the days of Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds. This was before any of the current Wildcats, they were still in high school at the time. Providence didn’t allow for another blowout loss. In fact, they made it very difficult, and just would not go away. It took double overtime to end it.
The Wildcats opened up the game a little shell shocked from the previous game against Creighton. Turnovers and bricked shots were issues in the beginning. They could not seem to get a rhythm going and the home crowd loved it and they made sure Villanova could hear their satisfaction. However, the Wildcats kept it close, never allowing the lead to grow into double digits. The Friars scored in a variety of ways, whether it be by slicing their way inside or even using the perimeter. A Tyler Harris three pointer gave Providence their largest lead of the game, a nine point lead. Villanova would call a time out and the adjustments helped as they started to fight their way back. Ryan Arcidiacono made a three pointer with six seconds remaining to give Villanova the lead, 33-31. It wasn’t over yet, and ill-advised foul put Bryce Cotton on the line for a one and one. Cotton would sink both and the score was tied going into the half.
To start the half, the Wildcats briefly lost the lead off of another pair of Cotton free throws. Arcidiacono got the lead back for the Wildcats with another three pointer. It was back and forth for the first few minutes until Darrun Hilliard sunk a three pointer giving the lead back to the Wildcats. From there, the Wildcats paced the lead for the rest of the half. It was never easy though, Providence was just a few steps behind. It was still rather close, the lead was never for more than two possessions. When the Friars would close in, Villanova would get some separation. Villanova was up by 5 with about a minute left in the game. As the case had been all game long, Providence wasn’t going to go down without a fight. Hilliard fouled Cotton and it resulted in two made free throws that cut the lead down to 3. James Bell missed a layup that would have helped the Wildcats most likely seal the game. Providence’s Harris would scoop up the rebound and then LaDontae Henton would make a three to tie up the game. Villanova had last licks and with the final shot Arcidiacono missed a three pointer. Onwards to overtime.
In the first overtime, Harris drew first blood, making a three pointer for Providence. Bell would have a nice four point series to keep the Wildcats in it, but they were still behind by one point. It remained that way until Hilliard made a big three pointer with a little over a minute to go that would have Villanova the lead. Cotton would answer back with a layup to tie up the game. He showed why he is one of the best scorers in the Big East when he blew by the defense and then made a nice reverse layup under pressure. Once again, Villanova had the last possession and another chance to end the game. This time, Arcidiacono drove to the rim for a layup, the ball went off the rim and the game went into double overtime.
The second overtime remained close like the rest of the game had been. Villanova would take the lead off of a big dunk by Daniel Ochefu that quieted down the crowd. Then they began to continue to look inside with JayVaughn Pinkston. Pinkston took advantage of two mismatches that placed him in a spot to post up twice on a smaller defender. Later in double overtime, Villanova was up 79-76. Cotton couldn’t allow his Friars to give up just yet, he sank a three to tie the game up. For the third time, Villanova ran down the clock for the last possession and the ball was in Arcidiacono’s hands. He was clutch once again, driving inside, making the layup, and picking up the foul. He converted the free throw, giving Villanova the lead. There was a scare for a third overtime, as Providence’s Henton had a wide open look to sink a three pointer. The ball went off the rim and the final buzzer sounded.
Villanova’s free throw shooting was less than desired, only converting 62.5% tonight. It could have been the difference between winning and losing. Both benches were not a factor tonight, with Villanova’s bench providing two points and none for Providence. The Friars outrebounded the Wildcats 46-34.
Arcidiacono was the top scorer for Villanova. He had 21 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists. Right behind him was Pinkston, who put up 20 points and 6 rebounds. Bell chipped in 17 points and 9 rebounds. Both Hilliard and Ochefu added 11 points each.
For Providence, Cotton had some great numbers, 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists. Harris and Kadeem Batts both posted a double-double. Batts had 21 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out. Harris scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Josh Fortune was 4 for 5 from beyond the arc en route to a 16 point performance.
Last time Villanova beat Providence on the road, they went to the Final Four that year…
Villanova comes back home, but to the Wells Fargo Center. They take on the St. John’s Red Storm this Saturday, February 22 at 1:30 p.m.