In a highly-anticipated rematch between Villanova and Providence, it appeared that injuries on both sides would take away from the experience.
On one end, Ben Bentil was out of the starting lineup and reduced to a role off the bench due to an ankle injury that had been nagging him entering Saturday.
Meanwhile, Daniel Ochefu missed his third straight game because of a concussion. However, the 6-foot-11 center had nothing to worry about, as Darryl Reynolds had the best game of his career in the 72-60 win over the Friars.
“He does it in practice,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “No one on our team is surprised.”
Reynolds, a junior forward from nearby Lower Merion High School, made his presence felt early.
He grabbed a handful of offensive rebounds and provided a few dunks, setting the pace from the start for his career day.
After setting a career-high 13 rebounds in the game against Creighton, he followed it up with his best game so far as a Wildcat. Reynolds posted a team-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. He was almost perfect on the night, going 9-for-10 on the floor.
He was a crucial part in allowing Villanova to get off to a 25-10 lead with just under eight minutes to go. Providence was unable to find its stroke, while Villanova’s defense helped pave the way for its offense. The Wildcats were pouring it on through a balanced effort.
Providence went on a bit of a run to narrow the deficit by halftime, but Villanova still owned a 31-19 lead at the break.
The Friars’ early struggles forced Cooley to go ahead and send Bentil into the game, albeit earlier than he would have liked and for much more time than he was comfortable with.
The ankle was still nagging him, but it didn’t stop him from putting up a game-high 20 points. Bentil was problematic for Villanova on both ends of the court and on the glass. This time around, it looked like his effectiveness was limited only to scoring. He made 6-of-11 shot attempts, including a couple of three-pointers.
Providence slowly started to fight its way back into the game in the second half, trimming VIllanova’s big lead down to as low as six. Unfortunately for the Friars, it didn’t last long, as the Wildcats pulled away and stretched their lead back into double figures.
Reynolds wasn’t the only one to enjoy a double-double performance. Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins showed off their scoring and rebounding abilities. Hart added 14 points and 13 boards in the winning effort. Jenkins finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Overall, it was a good game for the junior class, with each person breaking the threshhold.
As for Providence, Kris Dunn was the only other Friar to finish in double figures. However, Dunn didn’t perform up to the level that he usually is at. He had 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists. He shot a mediocre 4-of-15 on the floor.
Villanova improves to 20-3 overall and 10-1 in Big East play. The Wildcats resume action on the road at DePaul. It will be the first time that both teams meet.