The Wildcats lost a physical battle to the Providence College Friars on Saturday afternoon, 69-66. The themes of the day were fouls, turnovers, and missed free throws. Both teams seemed to be trying to lose the game, but ultimately the Wildcats made more mistakes and tacked on another loss.
Nova was winning for the majority of the first half, although Providence helped by beginning 3-for-12 from the line. The team put together a nice 15-2 run to build a 12-point lead, but then our usual inconsistent play ensued as the advantage dwindled.
JayVaughn Pinkston led the Wildcats with 20 points on an 8-of-10 shooting performance, but he didn't do much other than score. Darrun Hilliard had 10 points in the first half, but went scoreless for 18 minutes in the second half and ended the game with 14. Ryan Arcidiacono chipped in 10 points of his own, along with 4 assists and 5 turnovers. One positive to be found in this game was Arch's offensive production - he finally stepped inside the 3-point line, hitting a couple nice pull-up jump shots and dishing well.
The viewing experience can nearly be summed up in one stat-line: 55 fouls and 36 turnovers in the game. For people without a calculator nearby, that's a foul every 44 seconds and a turnover nearly every minute. Villanova accounted for 32 of those fouls and 24 of the turnovers. Providence killed us in the paint, where we let up countless rebounds and fouled them on put-backs. They also scored 25 points off turnovers, whereas Nova only scored 6.
Since all the offensive issues can't be addressed in one article, here's the flavor of the week: we continue to struggle against trap-defenses. Providence had us back on our heels, causing many of the turnovers (though we committed enough on our own) and pushing us well beyond scoring range. Compounding the damage was Nova's awful pick-and-roll play. The big men stand in place and make their picks predictable, and the ball handlers don’t run tight to the screen. As a result they get double teamed or have to back dribble, stagnating the offense.
It's tough to see the light after this game. Providence came into the game with a 9-8 record, going only 1-4 in Big East play. Instead of staying above .500 in the Big East, Villanova is 2-3 in the conference now, in the midst of a 3-game slide. The next three games are against ranked opponents. Jay Wright needs to find something to bolster this team before the ship sinks. The Wildcats have a lot to improve before they take on Louisville Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.