No. 3 Villanova has just one loss this season to another Big East opponent, Providence, and yesterday was a rematch between the Wildcats and No. 11 Providence up at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Rhode Island. Villanova showed its dominance as it defeated the Friars 72-60 in a game that they had at hand from the opening tip off.
After a home win over Creighton to clinch their 37th straight victory at the Pavilion, Villanova kept the momentum into their strong road win in a game where they led by as many as 17. Last month, Providence outrebound, overpowered, and outshot Villanova on both ends of the court, but this time it was the Wildcats who had the upper hand. Junior Darryl Reynolds led the Wildcats with a career high 19 points, 10 rebounds. Teammate Ryan Arcidiacono chipped in with 16 points.
With the current Big East leading scorer, Ben Bentil, coming off the bench for Providence after dealing with a right ankle sprain on Tuesday, Villanova jumped to a 10-0 start and never looked back. Although Bentil finished with 20 points, 18 in the second half, it was not enough to lead his team. Villanova went into the half up by 19 points and outrebounding the Friars 27-15.
But it was Villanova who was clearly dominant on both ends of the court yesterday. Villanova’s defense was too much for the Friars, holding them to just 33 perfect from the field, converting on only 19 of 57 shots. Villanova also outscored them in the paint 32-14 and finished the game outrebounding them 46-29. The loss marks the second straight Big East loss for the Friars, both coming at home.
For Villanova, the revenge victory over Providence is huge for as they are still without 6-foot-11 Daniel Ochefu who missed his third game due to a concussion from practice. Ochefu is still being examined and treated under the university’s concussion protocol.
The victory takes Villanova to 6-0 on the road in conference games and 21-3 over the last three seasons. The question remains if Villanova has what it takes this year to make a strong run in the NCAA tournament, especially after last year’s disappointing upset to NC State in the second round. The Wildcats have some tough games down the road which will be a true test as they face opponents such as Xavier (Feb. 24) who is sitting at 20-2 and competing against them for a spot at the top of the Big East.
With the win, the Wildcats advance to 20-3, 10-1 in their 12th victory over the last 13 games. Next they travel to Rosemont, Illinois to face DePaul on Tuesday in the Allstate Arena for an 8:30 tip off.