PROVIDENCE, R.I.– The Providence College men’s basketball team defeated the No. 10 Villanova Wildcats, 54-52, on Saturday, March 6 at Alumni Hall in Providence, R.I. on Senior Night. With the win, the Friars conclude the regular season with a record of 13-12 overall and 9-10 in BIG EAST play. The Friars improved to 2-2 on the season versus ranked teams.
Senior Nate Watson (Portsmouth, Va.) and junior David Duke (Providence, R.I.) were the driving forces in the win, with 20 points each. Noah Horchler (Melbourne Beach, Fla.) finished with a double-double, with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
“I am very proud of the group and how we responded from our last time out,” Head Coach Ed Cooley said. “This is a Friar team that I am proud of, because of how physical and how determined we were.”
Horchler and Duke scored the first two baskets of the game for the Friars. Following the score by Duke off a turnover, Villanova used their first timeout. The Friars held an early 4-2 lead.
After the timeout, the Friars scored on seven consecutive possessions. During the stretch, Duke made three jumpers, including two from three-point territory. Watson also scored three times. At the 12:21 mark, Horchler capped off the streak with a three-pointer of his own. The Friars had extended their lead to 21-7.
The Friars were held scoreless for the next 5:07 minutes. With 7:14 left in the half, Watson completed an and-one to end the scoring drought. At the 4:54 mark, Jared Bynum (Largo, Md.) made a mid-range jumper to conclude a 10-0 scoring run for the Friars.
By the final media timeout of the half, the Friars held an 18-point advantage, 33-15. With 1:23 remaining, Watson completed a highlight alley-oop from Duke. The Friars continued their success on both ends of the floor through the end of the first half.
The Friars held a commanding lead at halftime, 38-21. Providence shot 16-26 (61.5%) from the field, 4-11 (36.4%) from three, and 2-2 (100%) from the free throw line. Villanova shot 6-28 (21.4%) from the field, 2-11 (18.2%) from three, and 7-9 (77.8%) from the free throw line.
The Wildcats began the second half on an 11-0 scoring run to narrow the gap to 38-32. With 17:20 remaining, Villanova’s Caleb Daniels made a three-pointer from the left corner to end the run. Shortly after, Horchler responded with his own three-pointer. The Friars led 41-32.
“We didn’t give in when the ball wasn’t going in the basket,” Cooley mentioned. “That is something to be proud of.”
Neither team could find a spark offensively as the second half progressed. Providence held Villanova scoreless for nearly seven minutes. Jermaine Samuels ended the drought for the Wildcats at the 10:28 mark. Ahead of the 7:46 media timeout, the Friars forced a shot clock violation. The Friars preserved their lead, 47-38.
The Wildcats cut the deficit to five with 5:52 left to play. At the 4:47 mark, Watson scored a heavily contested layup in the paint. Villanova’s Brandon Slater answered with a three-pointer. By the 3:41 media timeout, the Friars held a slim 49-45 lead.
With 2:22 to play, Jermaine Samuels made a layup to give the Wildcats a 50-49 lead. This was the first lead by the Wildcats since it was 2-0. The Friars used a timeout. Duke knotted the game at 50 from the free throw line at the 2:04 mark.
Following a defensive stop, a jumper by Duke gave the Friars the lead, 52-50, with 1:09 left. At the 0:15 mark, Villanova tied it at 52 from the free throw line. With 0:02 remaining, Duke made a second-chance layup to win the game.
Providence finished 22-55 (40.0%) from the field, 5-20 (25.0%) from three, and 5-9 (55.6%) from the free throw line. Villanova finished 17-52 (32.7%) from the field, 4-18 (22.2%) from three, and 14-23 (60.9%) from the free throw line. Jermaine Samuels led the way for the Wildcats with 21 points.
“I thought we used words that kept our group together, more so than what we didn’t do, but it’s what we’re going to do,” Cooley added. “That is how I am looking at the BIG EAST tournament.”
Up next, the Friars will travel to New York, N.Y. for the BIG EAST tournament at Madison Square Garden. The Friars will play in the First Round on Wednesday, March 10. The tip-off time and opponent are TBD. The game will be televised on FS1.
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