The Providence Friars were kings in the month of February, and they ended the month with quite the coronation.
The Friars scored their fifth victory over a ranked opponent with their 58-54 defeat of the Villanova Wildcats. The win in Philadelphia closed out a 6-2 month with notable wins over ‘Nova, the Marquette Golden Eagles, Seton Hall Pirates, Butler Bulldogs and the Creighton Bluejays.
Providence needed some assistance for this road win. And they got that and then some out of Luwane Pipkins. The pivotal play from Pipkins powered Providence to victory, as he was responsible for 14 of the Friars’ 28 points that were scored in the second half. This included a run where he scored nine points in a row and 11 of 13 down the stretch. He finished with 27 points, a season-high at a crucial time, on 7-for-13 from the floor, 4-for-8 from beyond the arc and 9-for-10 from the free throw line.
Villanova was able to scratch and claw their way back into it after a dismal first half. Integral in Villanova’s attempt to get back in it, albeit futile, were Jermaine Samuels, Collin Gillespie and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. They combined to score 26 points in the second half, with Robinson-Earl dropping in with 10 of those 26 points. They got as close as two after a Robinson-Earl 3-pointer and then later a dunk, but Providence still held firm to their lead. So, it wound up being all for naught.
Now at 10-6 in conference play, Providence has a big week ahead of them. They finish the season with two home games against the Xavier Musketeers and DePaul Blue Demons. They have no chance of claiming first place, but could wreak some havoc in the Top 3, depending on how things shake out. They and Villanova will be watching closely on Sunday when Creighton takes on the St. John’s Red Storm. Creighton, 11-4 in conference play, could drop down to 11-5 like ‘Nova. Should that happen, the Wildcats’ game against Seton Hall later this week could be intriguing for the race for tops in the Big East.