Friars Thump Ice Cold Villanova

Providence College continued its hot play on a predicted cold, snowy evening in Rhode Island, and dumped the 8th-ranked Villanova Wildcats, 83-68 for its second straight win over a ranked team. With the win, PC improves to 13-8 overall and 2-6 in the Big East, while Nova drops to 17-3 and 5-2 in the league.

Coming off an emotionally charged win over Louisville on Saturday, one might have expected a letdown by Providence. With forecasts predicting a huge snowstorm, many fans stayed away, and while close to 11,000 tickets were sold, the actual crowd numbered 7,927, including a packed student section. If anything, it was Villanova, coming off a blitzing of Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, who suffered the letdown. But the Friars are learning how to win. "We felt a little less pressure after beating Louisville," said coach Keno Davis.

Consider this: Villanova never led in the entire game. The Friars jumped Nova from the opening tip, with three pointers by Gerard Coleman and Vincent Council and never looked back. Meanwhile, against PC's switching man to man defense, the Cats were as cold as the outdoors, bricking jump shot after jump shot. "Louisville and Villanova are two of the better three point shooting teams that you'll find in the country," said Davis. "I knew it wouldn't be a good game to go to a true zone. We practiced a little match-up in case our man to man was getting beat, but we played straight man."

The Friars asserted their will in this game. PC grabbed the early lead and choked every Villanova comeback attempt. Throughout the first half, the Friars maintained a small lead and when Duke Mondy buried a three for a 20-14 advantage, PC began to pull away. A jumper by Council pushed the lead to 24-14 and free throws by a cold shooting Marshon Brooks put PC up by 32-23 with 1:27 left. Antonio Pena answered with a jumper and when Maalik Wayns missed a free throw with twelve seconds left, Brooks made a move for a twisting layup at the buzzer. The Friars took a 34-25 lead into halftime.

Villanova shot just 26% from the floor for the first half and just 1-9 from three. The Wildcats, amazingly, had zero assists until two minutes remained in the half, and while they had outscored PC 14-6 in the paint and hammered the Friars on the glass, too many first shot opportunities and flat out misses had put them at a deficit. Only Pena and Wayns were performing up to par and keeping the Cats in the game.

In the second half, it seemed that the only thing that might derail the Friars was foul trouble. Brooks, Bilal Dixon and Council all picked up reasonably early third fouls. But PC continued their crisp passing, just good enough shooting and stout defense and quickly pushed their lead to double digits. Villanova would get no closer than seven points, at 43-36 after a Pena jumper and 50-43 after another Pena jumpshot. In fact, the Cats hit a number of jumpers in the second half where their feet were just inside the three point line, preventing them from putting more pressure on the Friars.

A three pointer by Council gave PC a 61-50 lead and when Bryce Cotton nailed a three with 2:55 to go, PC led 74-56. That was also the Friars' last basket, as PC spent the remaining two and a half minutes knocking down free throws, in particular, Brooks.

On his birthday, Marshon Brooks had one of his worst shooting games of the year (4-15), but still scored 20 points and added 8 rebounds and a couple of blocks and steals. Gerard Coleman banged his knee on a fall to the deck midway through the second half, but finished with a strong 16 points, including two dazzling alley-oop dunks. Vincent Council also had 16 points, on 5-15 shooting, but had 8 assists and 8 boards. Kadeem Batts chipped in with 11 points and 9 boards and was active all night inside. And Bryce Cotton played a strong game on both ends and had 10 points, including 2-3 threes. PC hit 31-38 free throws, including 12-14 by Brooks. "One thing that we've drilled into them is getting to the free throw line," said Davis.

The Wildcats were 15-0 when scoring 70 points, but PC limited them to 68, on 33% shooting and just 4-22 threes. Together, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes shot just 4-26 and were nonfactors as PC's long guards harassed them. Only Pena, with 17 points on effective midrange jump shooting and 15 rebounds and Wayns, with 18 points, showed up for Nova. Villanova did outscore PC on second chance points, 25-13, and outdid the Friars on the glass, 50-42, including 23-10 on the offensive boards, but their ineffective shooting – along with a tough Friar defense - did them in. "We need to do a better job on our inside defense," Davis said. "Of course, Pena is a fifth year senior going up against a redshirt freshman (Batts)."

Next up for PC is a trip to New Jersey to face the always dangerous Pirates of Seton Hall on Sunday. The Hall is coming off a drubbing of Syracuse and the Friars need to prove they can play well on the road. In particular, PC needs more help from Bilal Dixon inside and Coleman, who has yet to have a big road game, will be battling a bruised knee.

Scout Friars Top Stories