Villanova Holds Off Providence in a Battle of Big East Leaders

Caleb Daniels Scores 20 in 76 – 74 Win

VILLANOVA, PA. 3/1/2022 –

The Providence Friars entered the Finneran Pavilion as the Big East regular season champions, their first time. Villanova is second on the conference. The Cats have occupied the top spot frequently in the past few years. So, the expectation was for a battle, and the teams delivered. Villanova wins 76 – 74 in a well played game that was not decided until the final horn sounded.

Caleb Daniels led the Wildcats scoring a season-high 20 points making 6 of 11 from the floor, 2 of 7 from beyond the arc, and was a perfect 6 for 6 from the free throw line.

Game Decided Down the Stretch

Both teams had a lead, both teams erased those leads. The decision would go to who executed properly down the stretch. # 11 Villanova and #8/9 Providence did. The Wildcats had a lead and did not relinquish that lead.

“Both teams executed really well, both teams did what they wanted to do, and got the shots they wanted,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “When it was three, they took a quick two. That was really smart. We didn’t foul on that which was smart. We made free throws, they made free throws. It was really a well played game by two outstanding veteran teams.”

Over the last 32 seconds Providence trailed by 69 – 68 after a three-pointer by Justin Minaya. Villanova got their next 7 points from the foul line missing only one. Daniels sank 4 of those. Friars guard Jared Bynum kept his team to within one at the 15 second mark with a layup, the quick two Wright alluded to. Daniels answered with two free throws. Bynum responded sinking both from the line with 5.7 ticks on the clock. Daniels, again stretched the lead to 3 just two seconds later from the charity stripe.

Justin Moore made a foul shot for Nova as 1.8 seconds showed on the scoreboard to equalize two Bynum free throws. Providence tried a full court pass to get a desperation shot. That pass was stolen, the horn sounded, and Villanova got the win.

Daniels Spurt Provided the Needed Spearation

The Wildcats were in position to win thanks to 8 straight points scored by Daniels. After the Friars tied the game at 51 the Wildcats went on the Daniels-led 8 – 2 run and a 59 – 53 edge with just under 7 and a half minutes to play. Wright felt that spurt changed the game. For Daniels it was about the team.

“That’s being confident and stepping up for my teammates,” Daniels said. “Guys were making plays the whole game. You have to step up for your brothers. That’s what was on my mind.

Villanova avenges an earlier defeat at Providence. For Collin Gillespie who scored 14 points, his thoughts were not on the opponent of this game being the final home game.

“That was the most important game, the next game,” Gillespie said. “We were going out and build up what we worked on in practice and made sure we played Villanova basketball.”

Eric Dixon added 15 points for the Wildcats, and Justin Moore got 13 counters.

Bynum scored 19 points in the game. Noah Horchler and A.J. Reeves each contributed 15 points, while Minaya got 11 points.

Looking Towards the Postseason

Providence finishes the season at 24 – 4 and 14 – 3 in the Big East. Villanova (22 – 7, 15 – 4) has another league game at Butler on Saturday. Good chance they will met for the third time in the Big East Tournament. But that is not a guarantee.

“The Big East Tournament is going to be incredible,” Wright said. “Anybody in this league can beat anybody. On a neutral court up there, it’s going to be really good basketball.”


Written By: Glenn Papazian


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