Snow blitzed Philadelphia and much of the Mid-Atlantic region this past weekend, so Villanova and Providence had to wait 24 extra hours before they would square off at the Wells Fargo Center. We're not sure if any snow day activities occurred but in the immortal words of Hoku, that's alright, and that's okay.
The delay didn't cause Providence and Villanova to have their basketball-ing abilities to be sapped. Quite the contrary. The Friars and Wildcats brought the goods on Sunday afternoon as a neat appetizer for Championship Sunday and/or the Royal Rumble - or perhaps it was the main course for your Sunday brunch.
Whatever your preference. No judgments.
The back-and-forth affair, highlighted by a terrific second half, was won by Providence who bested the efforts of Villanova on Sunday afternoon, picking up a victory to the tune of 82-76 in overtime.
Sophomore forward Ben Bentil set the pace from the jump and finished with a game-high 31 points. Sunday's performance against the Wildcats marked the third game in a row that the Wilmington, Delaware native scored 20 points or more, and the 11th time in the 2015-16 season that the threshold was reached. Bentil added 12 rebounds, getting yet another double-double this season.
Kris Dunn, the do-it-all guard for the Friars scored 13, including a big go-ahead 3-pointer with 71 seconds remaining in regulation, grabbed five boards and dished out 14 assists. It marked the fourth time he had double digit assists this season and the first time since his 11-assist outing vs. UMass back on December 21. Additionally, Dunn's 14 assists matched a career-high that he set vs. Navy on November 20, 2014 and earlier this season vs. Hartford on December 2, 2015.
Junior guard Junior Lomomba of Montreal, Quebec added 12 points and four boards. Compton, California's Kyron Cartwright also notched double figures, scoring 13 points including two late-game free throws with 16.2 seconds to play in regulation that proved pivotal.
Villanova's Josh Hart didn't quite play up to par at least from an efficiency standpoint on Sunday. Hart scored 18 points, but did so on 18 shots. He did not get to the line once which is a feat he had not achieved all season having averaged 4.2 free throw attempts per game in conference play.
Senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono sent the game into the extra period after burying a 3-pointer with seven seconds to play. Arch dropped 19 points on 11 shots, aiding his team at the line late, with an assist and three boards to boot.
Freshman Jalen Brunson played well in spurts, scoring 10 and handing out four assists as well and looked very comfortable playing against one of the most talented teams in the country.
Here's what we learned from this matchup:
1. Ben Bentil is still a monster: The breakout campaign continues as Bentil is vying not only for most improved in the conference but perhaps most improved in the country. Bentil dominated Sunday's matchup vs. the Villanova frontcourt which is usually quite stifling, stingy and snuffs out the opposition often. The sophomore from Delaware wouldn't let that happen, scoring the second-most points he's scored in his career, just a hair shy of the 32 he dropped earlier this year against UMass. If you haven't already, you might want to start paying attention to No. 0 from the Friars.
2. Josh Hart picked a wrong time to be inefficient: Hart had been the star for the Wildcats this season and was doing so with brilliant efficiency. The Maryland native is one of the most effective shooters in the country but had an off afternoon on Sunday scoring 18 on 18 shots. To make matters worse for Hart, he wasn't shooting well from deep, with a mark of just 2-for-7 from the perimeter, and didn't have a single free throw attempt in the game. Villanova will need Hart and his efficient ways the rest of the way because if Sunday is any indication, they may not fare so well if he has an off game.
3. The BIG EAST will be competitive the rest of the way: Maybe the oddsmakers weren't thinking clearly when Villanova was anointed a 12.5/13-point favorite over the visiting Friars, but this was still a huge upset as Villanova's long-running streaks were snapped Sunday afternoon. The margin for error the rest of the way will have to be thin for 'Nova because there's a slew of teams champing at the bit to get to the top of the conference. They do hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over Xavier who is breathing down their necks, but now with this loss to Providence, the February 6 encounter in Friartown becomes that much more important. Strap in, folks. This is gonna be a fun ride to March and we're just getting started.