It was a closely fought game between the Villanova Wildcats and Providence Friars all the way to the end, but the Cats were handed their first loss in overtime Sunday. Ben Bentil had 31 points to lead the Friars to victory, while Ryan Arcidiacono lead the Wildcats with 19. It was an exciting, non-stop game that could have gone either way, but turnovers and rebounds ended up being the Wildcats downfall in this one.
Villanova was excellent defensively to start the game, putting pressure on the Friars ball handlers and forcing contested shots. They were especially active in the passing lanes, creating several turnovers and steals that lead to easy baskets. On offense, Josh Hart lead the charge, finding space for open jumpers, driving the lane, and connecting from behind the arc. Providence stars Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil were held to a combined 4 points on 2-7 shooting in the first 15 minutes.
Villanova had lead by as many as 11 points at the 6 minute mark, but with halftime approaching, Bentil scored 10 points in the final 5 minutes of the half. Kris Dunn added 4 more points in the final 5 minutes as the Villanova lead quickly evaporated. The Friars even grabbed the lead with 17 seconds left, but Jalen Brunson was able to hit a 3-pointer with time expiring to send Villanova to the locker room with a 37-35 lead.
In the second half, Providence started getting hot and was able to trade shots with Nova, eventually taking the lead half way through the second. Villanova was able to tie the game back up off some Jalen Brunson free throws, and then was able to take the lead back off a dunk by Daniel Ochefu. The teams would continue to trade shots and leads for the next several minutes. Every time a team was presented with an opportunity to pull away, they seemed to make a costly turnover or take an errant shot to let the other team back in. With 5 minutes left to play, Providence was ahead by just 1 point as the teams went to a TV timeout with a score of 58-59.
Villanova was able to take the lead back off a quick three by Ryan Arcidiacono, but play was stopped when Providence star Kris Dunn came up limping off what looked like a rolled ankle. He was able to get back into the game a minute later, but lost the ball on his first possession. He made up for it by stealing Hart's dribble and dishing for a lay-up to tie the game with under 2 minutes to play.
Arcidiacono got a rebound off a Mikal Bridges missed three and was able to find space for a pull up jumper putting Nova back up 2. But Kris Dunn wouldn't be out done, coming down the court and hitting a transition 3 with just over a minute left to play. A missed Jenkins three on the other end put the ball back in Providences hands, and with just 16 seconds left in the game the Wildcats were forced to foul. Providence's Kyron Catwright hit both free throws, putting the cats up 3 with just seconds to play. With 7 seconds left Arcidiacono hit a three-pointer off a screen to electrify the Nova Nation on hand for this thriller. Kris Dunn wasn't able to hit a mid-range pull up on the other end, and the game went to overtime.
The Cats missed their first shot in extra time, but an excellent tip by Ochefu kept the ball alive for Jenkins to knock down a three to give the Cats an early lead. Ben Bentil was able to get a put-back off a rebound and made it a 1 point game. After a Villanova turnover, Junior Lomomba was able to penetrate for another quick bucket, and with 1:42 left in OT, Providence lead by 1, 70-69.
Nova was unable to make a clean inbound pass and Kris Dunn came up with the steal and Bentil was fouled on his shot, resulting in 2 free throws to put the Friars back up three. Ryan Arcidiacono drove the lane and was also fouled, cutting the lead to 1 off his free throws. Kris Dunn converted his drive for 2 more, but Arcidiacono answered with a drive of his own. He was fouled again, but this time hit just one of his free throws. Providence found Bentil for an easy lay in to put the Friars up 4. As Brunson rolled the ball into Arcidiacono on the next possession, Kris Dunn tried to go for the steal. He instead got called for the foul, his 5th, and was out of the game with 15 seconds left.
Arcidiacono was at the line again, and this time hit both of his free throws. Kris Jenkins quickly fouled Ben Bentil on the inbounds, where he converted both, putting the friars again up by 4. Ryan Arcidiacono was unable to convert his drive, and Ochefu was forced to foul, giving him his 5th. Bentil hit 1 of his free throws and Hart drove the length of the court, laying the ball in to pull Nova within 2 points with just 4 seconds left in the game. But the Cats never were able to complete the comeback, and Providence handed them their first conference loss 82-76.
Notes and Quotes
- Starters in order announced: Jenkins, Brunson, Hart, Reynolds, Arcidiacono
- Daniel Ochefu did not start due to a minor off-court infraction, according to Villanova
- Ryan Arcidiacono's elementary school choir sang the national anthem
- Ed Cooley on the win, "This is an unbelievable win for us playing against a great, great team. Arguably a team that will compete for a National Championship."
- Ed Cooley on sitting around an extra day, "If we can play like this, I hope it snows the rest of the season."
- Ed Cooley on if Villanova has an edge on the Big East, "Let's face it, they're a very good basketball team. I think Villanova is very, very fortunate to have a coach that not only loves the Big East, but loves Villanova. And for him to do what he's done in the league, it's unparalleled. He's done a great job. Whether they an edge or not, I don't know, I just know they're very very talented and they're very well coached."
- Ed Cooley on what he told his players heading to Overtime, "Stick with the process. You know, a little dejected, you know Arch has made some big shots against us his whole career. I mean, wow. He's been here longer than Robert Parish was with the Celtics for crying out loud. But stay with it. We had good rhythm, we had good pace. Was it a little deflating, yes, especially being on the road. But I definitely thought we showed some road toughness and some team toughness, staying with what we try to do to start the game."
- Ed Cooley on the Big East, "Nobody in this league is going to lay down for anybody, every day is a war. That's what makes this league so unique. It really does. You know everyone in the past talked about the "new" Big East. This Big East conference is a bear. You've got to knuckle up every game, and you've got to make sure you're detailed and disciplined."
- Ed Cooley on Villanova's 22 game win streak, "It's unbelievable. In league play, everybody knows what they're going to do... So the fact that they've been able to do an unbelievable job in the league the way they've done, it's really a credit to their coaching staff, their player development, and the overall culture of their organization. They should be commended for that because it's very hard to do."
- Jay Wright on the game, "Great college basketball game to be a part of. Even though a lot of people couldn't get down, I thought the crowd was great. We just got beat by a team that played better tonight. We have won a few games on the road where we said 'we didn't play our best, but we found a way to win'. And tonight, we didn't play our best, but a lot of it was because they did... Two outstanding players made big plays, Bentil and Dunn, but they also made the players around them better. Their other guys made some great plays too."
- Jay Wright on Kris Dunn, "Holding Dunn to 13 points is not an accomplishment because he had 14 assists. I've said this about him, he's a great player. He's going to beat you one way or the other. He knew we were really trying to prevent him from getting off anything easy, and he just found his teammates and made great plays for his teammates. Every time we lost him, he hit a shot. That's what makes him great."
- Jay Wright on Villanova's 3-point shooting, "I think we regressed a little bit. We just settled, we took the first one. Everybody just trying to get a three rather than make the right play, you know, out of aggressiveness. That's how we played earlier in the year. We've been getting better at that. We fell back into it tonight."
- Jay Wright on playing against the zone, "They just suckered us into it. We didn't get to the foul line a lot because we just settled. You see a zone, you can get off three's against a zone. They're packing it in and not playing you man to man. You just got to mix it up. You got to take some threes and you got to get in the lane. You've got to pass up some threes sometimes and get in the lane and make plays. And we didn't do that, we just settled, took the first three every time. It was out of confidence, thinking we're going to make it, but we've got to be smart enough to mix it up."
- Josh Hart on what they can take from this game, "That we've got to get a lot better. We've got to get back to the basics. Focus on defending, focus on rebounding. That's really the big thing we have to take away from it is that we've got to continue getting better every day. We can't get complacent with where we are."
- Jay Wright on the 22 game winning streak, "I think it's a tribute to young 18-20 year olds being disciplined enough to bring commitment every day. It's hard for adults to do, all of us, to bring a commitment to our job every day over a long period of time. It's hard. These guys at their age to be able to do that, I think they learned a great lesson about that. That's really what we try to teach them. That's what the 22 wins is. It's just bringing it every day. Whatever your job is when you graduate from college, if you can bring it every day like that you're going to be successful."
- Jay Wright on why Ochefu didn't start, "Little incident in practice. He just lost his cool a little bit. We just try to teach our guys that it's more important, the process and the team, than any one player. It's not a big deal... just a little disciplinary teaching point by the coach. He's fine, he'll start next game, but we just do that. There's just certain ways we practice, certain things we do. It's a privilege to start. So if you don't do that in practice, you lose that privilege. But you're still a great guy and still going to play a lot of minutes."