Villanova maintained control of first place in the Big East by grabbing a 66-57 road win over Providence to advance to 21-2 overall and 8-2 in league play. The Wildcats started quickly, got a little sloppy in stages of the first half, came back out strong in the second-half, but then couldn’t deliver the knock-out blow to put the Friars away.
That said, what ‘Nova was able to do down the stretch was get key plays from Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges on both ends of the floor and avoid having to sweat out a one possession game in the final 90 seconds.
With the win, the Villanova Senior Class of 2017 (Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds) become the winningest class in program history - surpassing the Class of 2016 by posting 118 wins.
- Good start to grab a 9-2 lead at “The Dunk”
- Held Providence to 0.89 points per possession
- 35-31 rebounding edge
- 14 assists on 26 made baskets
- 12 points and 6 boards off the bench by Paschall
- Held Providence to 23.5% shooting from three-point range
- 10 first-half turnovers
- Went cold from long range late in the game - allowing the Friars to hang around
- Outscored by 4 at the FT line
Josh Hart (37 Min, 17 Points, 6-15 FG, 4-5 3PFG, 1-1 FTs, 8 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 3 Turnovers, 2 Steals, 1 Block, 102 ORtg) Solid game from Hart. He scored some timely buckets in the second-half, was a force on the boards, defended with aggression and shot the three-ball well. Shot only 2-10 from two-point range, got to the line only once, and had a 1/3 A/TO Ratio.
Kris Jenkins (30 Min, 6 Points, 2-12 FG, 2-9 3PFG, 0-0 FT, 3 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Steal, 0 Block, 0 Turnovers, 80 ORtg) Jenkins remains cold shooting the ball. But he is just off by a fraction. He played well defensively and had a solid floor game. It is important that Jenkins maintain a balance between his deep shooting and trying to score from mid-range / in-close.
Darryl Reynolds (20 Min, 0 Points, 9 Rebounds, 0-0 FG, 0-0 FT, 1 Assist, 0 Turnovers, 0 Steals, 0 Blocks, 90 ORtg) Reynolds was a force on the defensive glass but essentially absent offensively. He made a nice pass to Brunson for a dime and didn’t turn it over. He doesn’t get touches on offense but is tasked with screening and trying to occupy a defender.
Mikal Bridges (25 Min, 8 points, 4-4 FGs, 0-0 3PFG, 0-0 FTs, 4 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Turnover, 3 Steals, 2 Blocks,160 ORtg) It was Brunson and Bridges that did the most on the offensive end to keep the Cats within reach of the Cavs until the Seniors were able to enter the fray. Bridges played well on both ends of the floor. He was a difference-maker on the defense end, rebounded the ball well, and hit a combination of timely three-balls and lay-ups that were crucial to the Wildcat cause.
Jalen Brunson (34 Min, 21 Points, 8-13 FGs, 0-3 3PFG, 5-5 FTs, 1 Rebound, 5 Assists, 7 Turnovers, 2 Steals, 102 ORtg) Brunson, again, was fabulous for the Cats. He made numerous key plays down the stretch. A tough lay-up where he split two defenders, the huge steal, and lay-up (and one) when the Friars had a chance to make it a one possession game agains with less than a minute remaining. He couldn’t get his three-ball to go and did turn it over a bunch - but when it was money time, Brunson was cold hard cash!
Eric Paschall (29 Min, 12 Points, 5-8 FGs, 1-2 3PFG, 1-3 FT, 6 Rebounds, 0 Assists, 3 Turnovers, 2 Steals, 103 ORtg) Paschall got loose around the bucket a bunch and finished well at the rim. Did a nice job on the glass - including 5 O-boards. Needs to continue to work on his FTs. great to see him eschewing hanging out beyond the arc and being more active cutting and posting up.
Donte DiVincenzo (25 Min, 2 Points, 1-4 FG, 0-2 3PFG, 2 Rebound, 3 Assists, 0 Turnovers, 1 Steal, 0 Blocks, 99 ORtg) Strong floor game. Good effort on defense. DiVincenzo didn’t force things on offense.
Villanova next tips it off against St. John’s at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday evening.