Friars lose a heartbreaker in 2 OT’s to Wildcats
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
With the chance to secure a big home win over a Top 10 team, Providence had 9th ranked Villanova right where they wanted them. In overtime, and again in double-overtime.
But it may be that the wear and tear on a team with a short bench is beginning to take its toll, as the Friars committed four big turnovers in the second overtime against the Wildcats…three of them leading directly to scores, and Villanova held off Providence for an 82-79 double overtime win at the Dunkin Donuts Center Tuesday night.
I know there’s a lot of people disappointed…I’m the most disappointed guy in this room,” Ed Cooley told the media afterward, “but that’s what the Big East is about. I thought our kids played very hard, I thought we played together – we weren’t the smartest group in critical situations, but I’m very proud of my team. These kids played hard.”
And so did the Wildcats. Villanova sophomore guard Ryan Arcidiacono, better known for his outside shot, took the ball straight to the rim as the Wildcats found a defensive mismatch with time running out in the 2nd OT. Kadeem Batts went out to the shooter, thinking three…and Arcidiacono blew by him to the hoop for a layup and a foul to provide the winning margin, breaking a 79-79 tie. LaDontae Henton, who hit a huge three to put the Friars in overtime in the first place, missed an open trey at the buzzer that could have put the game into a 3rd extra period.
Not that anyone would be left standing for that. Both teams had spectacular moments, and at other times, found a way to grind the game into a typical Big East “rock fight.” Providence came out on fire at the start, hitting nine of their first 13 shots from the floor for an early 22-13 lead. But a 20-9 run for the Wildcats over the final four minutes of the half, coupled with a 3-for-15 PC shooting slump, put them in position to lead it at the break. Two Bryce Cotton free throws at the end, however, knotted the score at 33-33.
The Wildcats began to assert themselves defensively at the start of the second half, and a 6-0 run-out put them ahead 44-39 with 12:41 to play. With the lead at six and 4:42 left, it appeared as if Villanova might make it a short night. Or, at least a regulation night. Tyler Harris (15 points, career high 12 rebounds) scored five straight points to pull his team within three, but a fatigued Cotton missed two big free throws that could have made it a one point game. He would hit two more just seconds later, but only after Arcidiacono hit two that gave the Cats a five-point cushion. So, a three-point 63-60 lead was what Villanova had…until Henton’s heroics. Scoreless up until this point, Henton hit an open trey with :21 seconds remaining to tie the score, and eventually force the first overtime as Arcidiacono missed a three with six seconds left.
In the first extra period, Harris hit a trey to give his team the lead, but the Wildcats kept it close, and eventually grabbed the lead at 72-70 scoring five straight points with :54 seconds remaining. Two Henton free throws tied the score again, setting the stage for a second extra stanza. With a 74-73 lead after a Batts score, back-to-back turnovers from Josh Fortune and Henton led to easy inside scores from Daniel Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston. Cotton hit a huge three to tie the score at 79 with :26 seconds left, setting the stage for Arcidiacono’s final play.
He missed the first time, but didn’t miss the next time. Perhaps he had the Friars right where he needed them to be.
After a crushing 101-80 road loss at Creighton Sunday night, Villanova improves to 23-3, 11-2 in the Big East and tied for the top spot again. Providence falls to 17-10, 7-7 in the league with four games (three on the road) remaining…held to just four points in the first half, Cotton ended up leading all scorers with 22 points, and also had seven rebounds with nine assists...while playing all 50 minutes. Batts scored 21 points with 11 rebounds, his 7th double-double of the season and 15th of his career…Harris’ double-double was the first of his career, and Fortune finished with 16 points (13 in the first half)…Arcidiacono led five Villanova players in double figures with a season high 21 points, Pinkston had 20, James Bell 17 and Ochefu and Darrun Hilliard each finished with 11…PC won the rebounding battle 45-34, but the Wildcats forced a PC season-high 19 turnovers, scoring 21 total points off of the miscues. The Friars were able to keep things close with a 20-for-24 night from the foul line, and hitting nine-of-19 from three…after sweeping Villanova last season, the Wildcats returned the favor this year, as they also defeated PC 91-61 on January 5th at home…both teams have plenty of “extra” experience this season. The game was the 5th to reach overtime for the Friars (now 2-3), while the Wildcats are a perfect 4-0 in their overtime games this season…a sign of fatigue at the end? VU missed nine of their final 11 shots from the floor in regulation…but connected on 7-of-10 in the extra periods, as the Friars turned the ball over late…with now three of their final four games of the regular season on the road, Providence will travel to Indianapolis, IN for a first-ever visit to Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse Sunday at 6:00 pm (5:45 pre-game on 103.7 FM and friars.com). PC defeated the Bulldogs 65-56 at the Dunk January 21st…
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