January 23, 2021 –
The Villanova Wildcats were playing their second game after a near month-long pause. The Wildcats played two Big East teams that gives them fits at times. During the week it was a narrow win over Seton Hall. Today, a second half Villanova surge provided a 71 – 56 win over the Providence Friars at the Finneran Pavilion. Two tough games, two tough league wins, two significant accomplishments for the third-ranked Wildcats.
“It’s definitely a big accomplishment to get any win in the Big East especially coming off the break we had,” said guard Justin Moore who scored a team-high tying 15 points. “It’s impressive for us to take that break and come back and get two big wins. We’re far from where we need to be, and we have to keep getting better. So we just keep grinding every day.”
At halftime Villanova trailed Providence 27 – 24. It could have been a bigger margin for the Friars. The Wildcats started their comeback late in the half. Moore connected on a layup, then after three Providence free throws, Collin Gillespie, who also scored 15 points, connected on a three-pointer at the buzzer to allow the team to stay within a possession.
In the second half Villanova took a 39 – 38 lead with just over 13 minutes to play. A 19 – 4 run gave the Wildcats control of the game. They do so by sharing the ball and taking open shots.
“They’re a great team,” said Gillespie. “They’re physical and got us out of our stuff. But in the second half we were able to get good looks at the rim. Guys were doing a great job of finding other guys when the defense collapsed.”
Villanova connected on 16 of 33 in the latter twenty minutes (48%) after making just 8 of 30 early. It was also significant the the Cats turned the ball over only twice after intermission.
“It was a good step for us against an outstanding defensive team,” Villanova Coach Jay Wright said. “We watched their last game when they just locked down Creighton on the road. They always give us trouble. You could see in the first half we couldn’t score. I was pleased with our patience and not getting frustrated with their great defense and continue to play through it and playing good defense on our own. That’s what the game came down to.”
Caleb Daniels and Jermaine Samuels broke double-digits for the Wildcats getting 12 and 10 points. Samuels recorded a double-double adding 10 rebounds, 5 offensive and 5 defensive to go along with 4 assists. Gillespie handed out 6 assists and Moore totaled 5.
Alyn Breed led Providence with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Leading scorers David Duke and Nate Watson scored in double figures, but were contained getting 10 and 12. Duke pulled down 11 boards.
Villanova remains undefeated in the Big East improving to 5 – 0, and are 10 – 1 for the season. And are 2 – 0 after the pause. Nova takes to the road for the next three games taking on Connecticut on Thursday. Following that the Wildcats will go on their New Jersey / New York trip facing Seton Hall and St. John’s.
Written By: Glenn Papazian