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Providence vs. Villanova 2017 final score: Wildcats defeat Friars 78-68

Villanova improves to 19-1 and Josh Hart had himself a game.

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Villanova Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Lighting up Wells Fargo Center, Villanova soundly defeated a spirited Providence team 78-68.

‘Nova began with an early lead thanks in large part to the high-level blocking ability of Darryl Reynolds. To put Reynolds’ defensive impact in perspective, the Wildcat senior actually led both Villanova and the Friars in rebounds, grabbing 10 throughout the game.

Providence, perhaps swayed by the remembrance of their victory against Villanova a year prior, began playing with lethal efficiency to close out the half. In fact, at halftime, the Friars led in field goals 46 percent compared to the Wildcats’ 43 percent.

Whatever momentum Providence fueled itself on, ‘Nova decided to channel with a vengeance within the second half. Mikal Bridges opened up shooting for the Wildcats, signaling a flood of oncoming buckets to rain down.

Just when Villanova’s lead seemed to spiral out of Providence’s control, Jalen Lindsey decided to take matters into his own hand. Lindsey shot massive 3-pointers in the second half, capitalizing on Villanova’s four minute shooting drought near the tail end of the game.

Lindsey’s efforts helped whittle down ‘Nova’s lead to single digits. However, the Wildcats proved once again they would not be easily dissuaded. Josh Hart, thirsting to put up over 20 points, forcefully ended Villanova’s drought. Hart ultimately scored a game-high 25 points, and was joined in double figures by Kris Jenkins (19), Bridges (15), and Jalen Brunson (13).

For Providence, Rodney Bollock led the Friars’ offensive drive, netting 17 points. Lindsey (14), Kyron Cartwright (12), and Isaiah Jackson (12) additionally contributed with double-digit numbers.

Despite being edged out at halftime, Villanova ended the game making 52 percent of their FGs, while Providence fell slightly to scoring 44 percent of their FGs. Putting aside Providence’s dip in FGs, the Friars actually outperformed the Wildcats from the 3-point line, making an impressive 53 percent of 3FGs compared to ‘Nova’s 41 percent.

Villanova moves to play Marquette in Milwaukee on Tuesday, and Providence faces St. John’s at home in Providence on Wednesday.