PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/23/2018 – It took some time for the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats to get going, but they did and earned a 89 – 69 win over the Providence Friars at the Center. Nova showed versatility as many players contributed to the victory. The Wildcats had six players score in double figures led by Eric Paschall with 17 points, two shy of his career-high. Center Omari Spellman had 16, and Jalen Brunson added 15. The Cats were going to need versatility from their players and got it.
“Jalen didn’t have his normal night, Mikal didn’t have his normal night, but other guys stepped up,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “We need the young guys to keep getting better. Dhamir (Cosby-Roundtree) is and Omari is. It was important for us tonight.”
Although Villanova made 12 from distance, they had to find offense from different parts of the floor, and from a variety of players. Mikal Bridges scored 11 points, and he added a game-high 9 rebounds . Donte DiVincenzo scored 11 points. Freshman forward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree set his career-mark with 11 points, and grabbed 4 rebounds. Paschall set a personal-best with 5 assists. Brunson, Bridges, and DiVincenzo handed out 4 assist each.
Providence held a 24 – 15 lead and dropped four from deep. Nova started their comeback when Donte DiVincenzo made a three-pointer at the 7:27 mark and Mikal Bridges added another. On defense the pressure took advantage of the Friars having their point guard Kenyon Cartwright on the bench with two fouls. A 19 – 2 Villanova run over 5:08 gave them a 35 – 26 lead late in the first half.
“We didn’t have it at the start of the game, but that’s human nature,” Wright said.
In the second half Providence made a run at Villanova and got within 44 – 41 on a three-pointer by Jalen Lindsey with 15:48 remaining in the second half. Dial in the defense. The Friars would not get another field goal for six and a half minutes, they got but three free throws and missed 9 shots. Villanova put together a 19 – 7 run capped by a Bridges three-ball to lead 63 – 50. The lead would grow to as many as 20 points.
“We were good at the half, got it to within three, then we had back to back turnovers, they hit a three, said Providence Coach Ed Cooley. “They are a very good basketball team and I am glad they are in our league.”
Providence committed 14 turnovers that turned into 19 Villanova points. The Friars only got 6 off Nova miscues.
“They scored 19 points off turnovers, that’s too much,” Cooley said. “They had things go well for them which they earned, and we didn’t.”
On the glass Providence had a 44 – 33 edge, and a 21 – 12 advantage on the offensive boards. Alpha Diallo had 6 offensive rebounds, 8 total in addition to his 12 points.
“They’re a good offensive rebounding team, said Paschall. “They have big bodies and are very athletic. They try to use their speed and quickness.”
Rodney Bullock led the Friars with 16 points and Jalen Lindsey scored 14 points. Cartwright had 6 assists to go along with his 12 points.
Villanova improves to 19 – 1 on the season, 6 – 1 in the Big East. The Wildcats have a tough assignment next going on the road to play Marquette on Sunday. They will put this one in the bank and prep for the next one.
“It wasn’t a pretty game for either side, but it’s a Big East battle and all of our games with Providence are like this, tough,” said Wright.
Written By: Glenn Papazian