The common nickname for the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence is "The Dunk."
But, with the exception of a Providence jam from 7'2" freshman Paschal Chukwu in the first half, it was Daniel Ochefu who did most of the dunking, leading the Wildcats to a 74-68 win over Providence.
Despite not starting the game due to academic reasons, Ochefu lit up the Friars defense down low, recording 19 points on 7-7 shooting from the field. He also added nine rebounds to lead all players. Ryan Arcidiacono led the team in scoring with 20 points and Darrun Hilliard added 16, nine of which came in the first half. Josh Hart also contributed with ten points off the bench, including a pair of corner three-pointers during a second half run.
The story of the game was tenacious defense, both in the interior and along the perimeter. The Friars extended their defense a bit too high along the arc to start the game, attempting to pressure the Villanova guards into turnovers. Instead, the guards were able to maintain composure and feed the ball down low to Ochefu, especially in the first half. Villanova led at halftime, 29-26, still looking to get in their offensive rhythm.
Finally, the offense clicked for 'Nova. An 11-0 run from the Wildcats between the 10 and 8 minute marks in the second half propelled Villanova to a 14 point lead over Providence. But the Friars and La'Dontae Henton would not back down. Five straight points from Henton and a steal at the top of the key and dunk by Kris Dunn put Providence back to within six points.
As the Friars extended their pressure to full court, the Wildcats guards were able to break the press with ease. An Ochefu pick at half-court allowed Hilliard and the other guards to get a Friar big man on a switch and take him all the way to the rim.
Providence had one more run left in them after freshman Jalen Lindsey knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the game to a two-possession game. The Friars' attempt fell just short, as Villanova finished off the game by knocking down free throws, shooting 26-33 from the charity stripe.
The Wildcats still stands atop the Big East with a 22-2 record (9-2) in the conference. Villanova will travel to the famous Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on #18 Butler.