VILLANOVA, PA 2/3/2013 – The Villanova Wildcats men’s basketball team came off a week where they downed two top five teams. This week was different as Villanova lost two games. This game Villanova lost in the last two seconds as Providence Friar guard Bryce Cotton drained a three-pointer from the top of the key to give his team a 55 – 52 win at the Pavilion. The loss was not the result of a Cotton three. It was more of a result by the Wildcats missing opportunities that could have put the game in the win column.
“I thought there were periods when we were playing really well and doing the things we wanted to do,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “It was the same as the Notre Dame game where I thought we were doing good things and then went through a stretch where we didn’t execute offensively and gave up three’s at the other end. It turned out the be the difference in the game. It was almost the same as Notre Dame. We’re not good enough to do that; to have a period where we don’t execute and lose three-point shooters and still recover from it. It’s s a lot of little things, and it’s a team that’s growing.”
The Wildcats trailed by six at halftime. Villanova came out hot in the second half. A layup by freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono gave Villanova a 38 – 35 lead with 12:16 on the clock. The chance to take control was there for the host team as the lead went to four points at 39 – 35. The shooting betrayed the Wildcats. The Arcidiacono layup was the last field goal scored by Nova for the next ten plus minutes. The Friars used a 17 – 4 run to build a 43 – 52 lead. Junior guard James Bell converted a three-point play for Villanova cutting the deficit to 52 – 46 with 2:07 on the clock.When it appeared that Providence was in control, Villanova came back scoring the next 6 points by creating five Providence turnovers. Bell tied the score with two free throws with 42.9 seconds to play. On the ensuing possession Providence wanted to work the ball for a last basket. At the 12 second mark guard Vincent Council took to the basket missing a short jumper. Providence guard Josh Fortune came up with the rebound in the scramble and found Cotton at the top of the key. Cotton made the shot to giving the Friars a three-point lead with 2.2. seconds to play. Villanova has a last second desperation shot at the basket, but senior center Mouphtaou Yarou hit the back of the rim and Providence got the win.
“They turned it (the defense) up,” said Providence Coach Ed Cooley. “They were dictating with their length. We were fortunate to make a shot.”
“They don’t hit the shot at the end and we get the ball back and win and we’re all still happy,” said Wright. “But we still had that period in the second half where we kind of gave the game away. It is something we’ve got to get better at. We’re not talented enough to make up for it and not disciplined enough yet to have those stretches. We’ve got to keep working and getting better.”
Many aspects of the game went well for Villanova. The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 38 – 33 getting 26 offensive rebounds. However the Wildcats could only muster a 10 – 7 lead in second chance points. Villanova forced 21 Providence turnovers that created a 25 – 19 points off turnovers advantage. But those statistics could not over shadow the Wildcats shooting 14 of 51 from the field (27.5%), and making 2 of 15 from beyond the arc. Both three-pointers connected in the first half. Providence made 10 of 15 three’s and shot 39.1% for the game (18 – 46).
Cotton, the Big East leading scorer, had a game-high 18 points making 5 of 12 from the floor and 4 of 8 from distance. Fortune contributed 15 points. For Villanova Yarou recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Hilliard scored a team-best 17 points, but 10 came at the free throw line where the sophomore guard was perfect.
The Wildcats are 13 – 9 on the season, 4 – 5 in the Big East. Villanova takes on DePaul on February 5, and hope to improve and start a new streak if the team does not dwell on the recent past.
“I don’t want these guys getting frustrated,” said Wright. “I feel completely confident. We’re going to practice tomorrow and leave for Chicago and if we get better, then we can win at DePaul, but it’s a possession or two and we can lose, and that’s just where we are right now. I’m not frustrated. I know it looks bad, but I’m not frustrated.
Written By: Glenn Papazian