Every loss for Villanova has been followed by an overtime game. So naturally, the game against Providence was inevitably headed to double overtime. The Wildcats ended up using a combination of Ryan Arcidiacono and JayVaughn Pinkston in the overtimes to hold on to a 82-79 victory over the Friars in Rhode Island on Tuesday night.
Ryan finished with 21 points, six assists and just one turnover, while Pinkston contributed 20. Five Wildcats finished in double figures: James Bell with 17, and Daniel Ochefu and Darrun Hilliard with 11. The two benches combined for 2 points, as Bryce Cotton led Providence with 22 points, seven boards and nine assists.
In overtime, Villanova won the tip, but Tyler Harris drew first blood with a three-ball. Bell responded with two free throws and a layup. Hilliard provided a huge boost with a shot from outside, giving the Cats a 72-70 lead. But Cotton completed an acrobatic layup to tie the game, setting up the last shot for Villanova. Arch missed a layup with a bit of contact, and the game moved on.
The second half began slowly, with neither team scoring until Cotton put in a pair of free throws two minutes in.
The Friars committed a turnover on six of their first nine possessions. Kadeem Batts and Cotton missed floaters, and Villanova responded quickly. On one play, Bell blocked a layup, Arch tipped the ensuing pass, dove for the loose ball, passed it to Hilliard who then led it to Pinkston for a dunk. Talk about team play.
A dunk by Ochefu gave Villanova a five-point lead at 44-39, which was their largest lead of the game to that point. The crowd at the Dunk was relatively quiet until the skies opened up and started raining threes from both sides. Arch and Cotton hit back-to-back-to-back jumpers.
But perhaps the biggest show of atheticism came from Ochefu. He stole a ball just past half-court, dribbled out of trouble, played through a foul and went end-to-end for the dunk. He then completed the 3-point play.
Providence entered the bonus with 8:53 left in the game, and their success on free throws certainly kept them in the game. At the under-8 timeout, Ochefu and Hilliard had three fouls and Hart had four, potentially compromising their depth at the end of the game.
The Friars jumped out to a fast 6-2 lead off of a few Villanova turnovers. Cotton added a floater and Fortune had a pull-up jumper in transition.
But Bell responded quickly with nine points of his own. The catch-and-shoot three-ball has become his signature move, and he consistently gets the shot off even with little to no separation from his defender.
Villanova went on a massive drought where Providence took control, only scoring four points in about a six-minute span. Fortune and Harris each nailed threes and the lead extended to nine about halfway through the opening 20 minutes.
Overall, the offense wasn't atrocious early, but the defense seemed to be an issue. Providence scored 22 points in the first 10 minutes. Batts was able to drive on Ochefu, sink a 15 foot jumper, and Fortune made some threes while Cotton distributed the ball well.
But once LaDontae Henton left the game after earning two quick fouls, the Wildcats went on a bit of a run and climbed back into it. The Friars missed 10 of 11 shots and continuously failed to convert on offensive rebounds.
Arch managed to put together a bit of a show near halftime, putting together eight points in the last two minutes, the last of which gave Villanova a 33-31 lead with 4.5 seconds remaining. It was their first lead since 11-10. Cotton hooked his arm around Ennis but drew a defensive foul, and sank both free throws to tie the game at 33 at the break.
In the first half, Villanova actually outshot Providence from the field, 46 to 43 percent. But Fortune was fortunate from deep and led Providence to a 57 percent clip from behind the arc. The 'Cats were 5/14 from three, but missed five free throws, including three from Pinkston.
Providence had won the last two contests at the Dunk against Villanova.