Despite playing without the services of center Daniel Ochefu for the third straight game, Jay Wright's Villanova Wildcasts walked into the Dunkin' Donuts Center and handed Providence their fifth conference loss of the season.
Ochefu, who is still recovering from a concussion suffered in practice last month, is the Wildcats has been best rim protector and interior scorer for the better part of two seasons. But big efforts from junior forward Darryl Reynolds and Big East player of the year candidate Josh Hart helped negate the loss of the big man as the Wildcats dominated the battle for the boards to the tune of 46-29 advantage.
Reynolds, who is usually the first big off the bench for Wright's men, turned in a stellar performance. His 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting led the way for the Wildcats. Couple that with 10 boards and Reynolds had his first career double-double.
Hart was brilliant-as-usual self, pacing the 'Cats with 13 boards to go along with 14 points of his own. The junior has proven time and again this season that he's one of the best rebounding guards in the country, hitting the boards at a rate of 7.4 per contest.
The 'Cats also got major contributions from forward Kris Jenkins (10 points, 10 rebounds) and point guard Ryan Arcidiacono (16 points, three assists) in a display of balance that has many believing they can make a serious run come March.
Providence, led by star duo Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, struggled out of the gate and trailed by 12 at the break. A quick spurt in the middle of the second period got the Friars within six but they were unable to close the gap completely as Wildcats ratcheted up the defensive pressure late in the game.
After struggling to just two points while dealing with an ankle injury in first half, Providence and Big East leading scorer Bentil came alive after the break. The versatile big man finished with 20 points, 6-of-11 from the field, and helped the Friars chip away at the Villanova lead.
Dunn, however, struggled throughout. The star point guard found it difficult all game as the Wildcats threw a number of defenders at him throughout the contest. The junior finished with 11 points on just 4-of-15 from the field. The poor shooting coupled with six turnovers resulted in one of Dunn's worst performances of the year for head coach Ed Cooley's Friars.
The Wildcats will hope to ride the momentum into Tuesday's match-up with the Blue Demons of DePaul in Chicago, while the Friars look to bounce back Wednesday when head to Milwaukee to take on freshman phenom Henry Ellenson and the Marquette Golden Eagles.
- The Wildcats absolutely dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the Friars by 17 including five more boards on the offensive glass.
- Providence did everything but help themselves with cold shooting in first half. The Friars shot just 23% on 7/30 shooting and went just 3/11 from deep
- 'Nova finished the game with more double-doubles than an In-N-Out Burger. Reynolds, Hart, and Jenkins all stuffed the stat sheet in an impressive display of depth
- Not so free throws. The Friars took seven more shots from the stripe in the contest (18 to 11), but to a tune of just 72% When compared with Nova's 100% from the line, Providence held just a two point advantage.
- *Sings* All night long (All night). The 'Cats had the lead for a whooping 39:37 in the contest. In case you were wondering, that's 39:37 longer than the Friars.