Philadelphia played host to this Big East showdown, and much like Sunday night over at nearby Lincoln Financial Field, the home team crowd didn’t leave unhappy. The ‘Cats used a brilliant surge in the final 10 minutes of the first half to help power them ahead. They outscored the Friars 31-13 during this segment after only scoring eight points in the first segment of the game. ‘Nova scored 50 points in the second half to Providence’s 39, as it turned into a runaway faster than you could blink.
The Wildcats finished the game with six players in double figures. Leading the way was junior Eric Paschall, who posted 17 points on 6-9 shooting from the field. Omari Spellman scored 16 points, nailing 6-8 from inside. Freshman forward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree scored 11 points off the bench and went 5-7 from the field. The terrific Jalen Brunson had an off night shooting the ball (5-15 FG) but still managed to get 15 points and four assists. Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo each posted 11 of their own.
The lone man who didn’t finish in double figures, Phil Booth, scored eight points and also had four rebounds.
It was a tough pill to swallow for the Friars, who got off to a stirring start. They led by as much as nine points, as they held a 24-15 lead at the 7:44 mark in the first half. But they simply couldn’t stop the torrential downpour that was the Wildcat offense on Tuesday night. Their shooting marks of 37.5 percent inside and 36.4 percent outside were just not enough to match the 56.8 percent and 41.4 percent marks that their opponents posted. Rodney Bullock led all Friar scorers with 16 points, and was one of four players in double figures. The others were Jalen Lindsey (14), Kyron Cartwright (12) and Alpha Diallo (12).
At 19-1 and 6-1 in conference play, Villanova remains in the driver’s seat in the Big East. They hold tiebreakers over Providence and the Xavier Musketeers now. The one team that’s tagged them this season — Butler — sits three games out of first place with a conference record of 4-4. Needless to say, ‘Nova is in a very good spot right now. Which sounds familiar nowadays, doesn’t it?
Providence, meanwhile, falls to 14-7 and 5-3 in conference play. They can breathe easy since they reeled off that four-game win streak going into Tuesday night, but this was certainly a setback for them. We’ll next see them in eight days, though, so they’ll get plenty of rest before their tilt with the Seton Hall Pirates next Wednesday.