Attention all Villanova Wildcats fans: feel free to breathe now.
For the third time this season, the No. 9 ranked Wildcats bounced back after a loss and secured a much-needed victory. This time, the win came over the Providence Friars to the tune of 82-79 in double-overtime.
I could go through the entire game frame-by-frame, but no matter what I do to describe it, the summary would all end up the same.
Neither team ever really took control of the game in regulation, and the lead either way was never stretched beyond nine points. And that was with 11:10 left in the first half.
In the second overtime, it was once again a back and forth battle, before Villanova extended the advantage out to three 2:23 left in the period. That advantage remained consistent until Bryce Cotton went straight onions: hitting a 3-pointer to tie the score up at 79-79 with 29 seconds left.
Then, in the face of doubt, sophomore guard Ryan Arcidiacono caramelized said onions, hitting a game-winning layup, his third game-winning attempt of the game, with three seconds left. Providence then scared all of Nova Nation with a perfectly drawn up play that came up just short as the Cats held on.
The team box score reflected exactly what happened in the actual game. The teams shot almost identically from the floor, with Villanova shooting 45.3 percent (29-64 FG) from the field and Providence shot 40.9 percent (25-61 FG). The Friars actually dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Cats 47-37. Providence however struggled with turnovers, losing the battle 19-15.
Honestly, I would love to tell you what the most influential difference was in the game. But the truth is none existed.
Arcidiacono played absolutely out of his mind on offense. The sophomore guard from Langhorne, Pa. finished with a season high 21 points, which lead the team, to go along with six assists and only one single turnover.
Outside of Arcidiacono, the rest of the bunch were great on offense. All five Wildcat starters finished in double digits. JayVaughn Pinkston led the effort from the rest of the starters with 20 points and six rebounds. The bench for Villanova was nonexistent though, producing just two total points. This was the lowest bench output of the season for the Wildcats.
For Providence, it was the same old, same old. Cotton led the Friars in points with 22. Was he effective? Yes. Was he efficient? Not so much. Cotton shot 30.0 percent (6-20 FG) from the field, and really made his living from the free throw line, where he was 8-10 on the night.
The reserves for Providence made Villanova's bench look like and offensive juggernaut. The Friars that weren't included in the starting lineup finished the game with zero points. Let me rewrite that just no you know I'm not messing with you: "The Providence bench finished with zero points!"
In a game that went 50 minutes, we witnessed one of the worst combined bench performances ever.
With the victory, the Wildcats have now won all three games immediately following a loss. All three contests going into at least one overtime. Villanova will now get an unprecedented four day break before taking on St. Johns on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Providence enters must-win territory with a road game against Butler at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sunday.