Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Darryl Reynolds become the all-time winningest class in Villanova history with 118 victories.
It was Jalen Brunson who scored the final 7 points for the Villanova Wildcats as they pulled away late to beat the Providence Friars 66-57 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Wednesday night. The victory gave Villanova a regular season sweep of the Friars, avenging their home loss from last season. The Wildcats are now 8-2 in the Big East and retained sole possession of first place with March now less than a month away.
It wasn’t a pretty night offensively for the ‘Cats who had to rely on their defense to win the game late. Even Jalen Brunson, who led all players in scoring with 21 including 5-5 at the line late, had 7 turnovers in the game. Josh Hart, who finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds, was held scoreless for the final 11:30 of the game. Kris Jenkins made his first three of the game, but would finish 2-12 from the field with just 8 points. Paschall, 12 points 6 rebounds, and Bridges, 8 points 4 rebounds, both had solid nights offensively but were limited with 4 fouls each.
The defense was where Nova really shined, holding the Friars to 39.6% from the field and 23.5% from deep. Despite giving up an unusually high 16 free throws, they were plus 4 on the boards and forced 14 turnovers. Even though the Friars were able to cut Villanova’s lead from 13 to 2 in the final minute, the ‘Cats held Providence scoreless in their final five possessions.
In the first half, both teams came out of the gate with some hot shooting before collectively cooling off in the last few minutes. Josh Hart led all players with 12 points, connecting on all 4 of his attempts from deep. Villanova was also getting multiple second chance opportunities with 6 offensive rebounds, but that was negated by 10 first half turnovers. The ‘Cats were also losing the battle at the line, where they were 0-1 compared to the Friars’ 7-9.
While Nova only committed 8 fouls in the first half, they were concentrated on just a few players. Bridges got whistled three times, while Jenkins and Paschall each racked up two infractions a piece. It was only Villanova’s defense (forced 9 turnovers and won rebounds 16-13) and Providence’s poor three point shooting (22% to Nova’s 42%) that gave Nova a three point lead at the half.
In the second, half, Villanova built up a 10 point cushion early. They would eventually push the lead to 13 with 8:33 to go. Providence would then go on a 13-2 run in a little over six minutes, cutting Nova’s lead to just 2 with 2:10 to play. But that would be as close as the Friars got as the Wildcats closed the game on a 7-0 run to seal the victory.
Villanova will play next at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night against a St. John’s team who defeated Marquette tonight.
The Villanova Wildcats made the trip up to “The Dunk” for their second matchup of the season with the Providence Friars. Villanova’s starters remained the same with Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, Darryl Reynolds, Jalen Brunson, and Mikal Bridges taking the floor for the ‘Cats.
Villanova won the opening tip and got off to a quick start with a three by Kris Jenkins as the shot clock was winding down. Providence answered with a long two, but Nova’s offense was hot to start this one. Brunson drove for a stop and go layup, and then got a steal for another quick lay-up to give the ‘Cats an early five point lead.
After a Providence miss, Jenkins would miss a mid-range jumper but Bridges would grab the offensive rebound and draw a foul. As the possession continued, Brunson found another lane to the basket to give him six straight points. Providence pushed after the made basket and was able to draw a foul and make both free throws. The teams would both have empty possessions before Providence hit a three from the corner, and the Nova lead was back down to 2 with under 16 minutes left in the game.
Nova would answer on the next possession as Eric Paschall was able to grab a Hart miss for an easy put-back. After a Providence miss, Brunson found Paschall wide open under the net for an easy dunk, and the lead was back to six. But in what was quickly becoming a back and forth game, Providence connected on their next two attempts to cut the lead to two. Then Providence was able to take away a Hart pass and force Nova to foul in order to prevent the easy break-away dunk. With 13:29 remaining, Villanova went into the media timeout up just two, and Providence would have an opportunity to tie coming up.
Providence made 1 of 2 from the line, leaving Nova with a 1 point lead. Both teams traded turnovers before Josh Hart hit his first shot of the game from deep to give the ‘Cats some breathing room. Providence answered with a baseline drive, and we were back to a one possession game. Hart turned the ball over for the third time in the first 9 minutes, and Providence’s Diallo had a great behind the back pass for an open dunk to tie the game at 16-16 with just over 11 minutes to play.
Paschall missed on a long three, but again Nova was there for an offensive rebound. This time it was Reynolds who extended the possession, and it resulted in another Hart three. After a solid defensive stop, Kris Jenkins hit his second three of the game to push Nova’s lead back up to 6, and once again quite the noisy crowd at The Dunk. Villanova led 22-16 with 10:07 remaining in the half.
Out of the commercial break, Providence continued their success against the Nova defense hitting a long 2 from the top of the key. Providence was shooting over 50% from the floor in the first quarter of the game, but the Wildcats were shooting over 60%. The teams traded turnovers before Donte DiVincenzo was able to get a stop and go bunny at the hoop to drop, and then got a steal on the other end. DiVincenzo couldn’t build momentum, missing his three point attempt, but Providence took advantage and connected from deep on the other end to cut Nova’s lead to three. Then Brunson got caught after picking up his dribble and turned the ball over with 7:31 remaining in the half and Villanova leading by 3.
Villanova’s 1-2-2 was delaying the Friars from getting set in their half court, but once they did they attacked the paint early and often. This was clear as 7 minutes in the Friars now had 8 trips to the line, making 4 of them, compared to Villanova’s zero. With the lead now down to two, Brunson missed a deep three from the top of the arc, and Reynolds was called for a foul on the rebound. Despite the advantage for the Friars at the line, the refs were generally letting both teams play. Both teams traded turnovers, including’s Nova’s 9th less than 15 minutes into the game.
Both teams would trade misses before Paschall was called for an offensive foul on a fast break. Nova’s defense was able to force a contested miss, and despite being blocked on his first attempt, Hart got his corner three to go to give the Wildcats a five point lead. Then on the other end, Providence was able to come away with a loose ball, and Bridges made a dumb foul on a made shot to send Providence to the line. It was Bridges’ 3rd foul of the half (Jenkins was also playing with 2 at this point), and he would sit for the remainder of the half. Villanova’s lead was down to 3 with 3:26 left in the first.
Providence would complete the And1 out of the break, making the score 27-25. The teams would trade a couple empty possessions and missed 3’s before Hart hit his fourth three (now 4-4) to push the lead back to five. It was Hart who would then get the rebound on the next Providence miss and draw a foul on the ensuing breakout. Nova couldn’t finish the possession, but DiVincenzo was able to draw an offensive foul on the defensive end.
Brunson pushed for a 2 for 1 opportunity around the 1 minute mark, but was off target. Providence was able to again get to the foul line, but went just one for two. Back on offense, Paschall again got loose under the basket for an And1 slam, but missed at the line. Down 5 and with the final shot of the half, Providence missed their three attempt, but were able to tip it back for the score. Villanova went into halftime up just three points, leading 32-29.
Providence continued to struggle from beyond the arc to start the second, air-balling from deep. Paschall, however, wasn’t struggling as he sunk a three on the other end, giving him 9 for the night. The teams would trade baskets on the ensuing possessions before Brunson fouled Providence’s Lindsey on a made three, resulting in a four point play that cut Nova’s lead to 2 with 18 points left.
Again, Josh Hart was there for the answer as he cut to the rim for a dunk. Villanova’s defense held Providence, as one of their players slipped and remained on the floor. Play continued as Bridges finished on a transition layup to push the lead back to 6. Holt, the injured Providence player, looked like he rolled his ankle as he needed to be helped off the court hopping on one foot.
Villanova kept the pressure on, forcing a turnover. The Friar’s defense forced a late contested shot, but Paschall came down with the offensive rebound for a fresh clock. Jenkins was able to use his head fake to draw a foul, and then Bridges was able to finish the possession with an alley-oop layup off the inbound. Bridges followed that with a steal and found Brunson for the easy break-away layup. Just like that, Villanova had its first double digit lead of the night at 45-35 with 15:44 remaining in the game.
The teams traded misses, fouls, and some sloppy rebounding as neither team could score over the next few minutes. Providence finally ended the drought with a layup. Villanova answered by getting the ball down to Paschall under the basket who was fouled. He went just 1-2 at the line, giving Nova a 9 point lead. Villanova’s defense continued to give up an unusually high number of free throws, were Alpha Diallo was able to go 1-2. to cut the lead back to 8 with just over 13 minutes to go.
Providence then got a stop on defense that led to a transition dunk on the other end, but Brunson answered with a turn around mid-range jumper. Providence answered with an offensive putback, and the Providence crowd was fired back up. But as he’d done all game, Josh Hart would be the silencer as he spun into the lane for the bucket and the foul. Nova’s lead was back up to 50-42 with Hart headed to the line and 11:30 remaining in the game.
Hart would hit his free throw to give him 17 for the game to that point. Providence would brick another three, now just 3-14, and Hart was able to draw a foul on the other end. Bridges was able to drive the base line as the possession continued and finished with a jam. Then he again followed it with a steal and transition bucket to give Villanova its largest lead of the game at 13. But on the next possession he committed his 4th foul and went to the bench.
On the other end, Paschall had a basket negated by an offensive foul call. The Friars were finally able to capitalize with a drive to the lane for two. The teams then traded misses before Brunson split a pair of defenders for an easy layup. Providence again came back with a two of their own, and this time were able to force a contested three by Brunson. Providence missed a three of their own, but were able to draw a foul on Paschall to put them into the Bonus and send them to the line down 11 with 7:25 remaining.
Out of the break the Friar’s missed the front end of a 1 and 1, but Villanova couldn’t make them pay on the other end. The teams traded some bad shots before Providence’s Rodney Bullock hit a runner in the lane to cut the Nova lead to single digits. That didn’t last long as Paschall was again open underneath the Friar’s zone and flushed home another dunk. Emmit Holt, now back on the floor after leaving with an injury earlier, answered with a short jumper and Providence called a quick timeout trailing 59-50 with 5:36 remaining in the game.
Providence came out of the timeout in a full court press, but Villanova easily broke it. However, Hart was unable to make his first or second attempts in the lane and Providence was ale to get back to the line on the other end. Alpha Diallo made both of his free throw’s to cut the lead back to 7 and again slowed Nova’s advance with a full court press. Villanova was happy to kill some clock, but Brunson lost the ball on a late drive. Providence wasn’t able to take advantage of the turnover, and then committed their 6th team foul on the other end. At the media timeout, Villanova still had a 59-52 lead with 3:51 left.
Out of the break Jenkins missed a wide open 3, but again Providence couldn’t cut into the lead on the other end. Hart forced a tough jumper in the lane for Villanova, and this time Kyron Cartwright was able to break away for a transition layup to cut the Nova lead to 5 and force a Villanova timeout.
Providence was able to trap Bridges on the next Villanova possession and force a jump ball that went to the Friars. Cartwright then drove the lane, but was blocked by Bridges. The block went straight to Providence and Diallo drained a three to cut the Nova lead to 2. On the other end Jenkins gambled on a long three, but Bridges saved the rebound from going out of bounds. Providence fouled Brunson who hit both ends of a 1-1 to push the lead back to four.
Providence missed a three on the other end, but picked up a foul on Jenkins on the rebound. Diallo missed the first end of the 1 and 1, but Brunson bailed him out by traveling on the next Nova possession. The Friars called timeout trailing 61-57 and 58 seconds remaining in the game.
After trying multiple times to penetrate Nova’s interior defense out of the timeout, Brunson was able to steal the dribble and hit the transition layup for an And1 opportunity which he converted to push the lead back to 7. After another Providence miss, Villanova wisely slowed the ball down and Brunson was finally fouled where he went 2 for 2 from the line. Providence missed their final shot and Josh Hart would dribble it out for the 66-57 Villanova victory.