#11 Villanova Wildcats Pound Providence Friars, Move to 2-0 in Big East

The 11th ranked Villanova Wildcats pounced on the visiting Providence Friars 91-61 on Sunday night, January 5th, at the Pavilion, toying with them like a mouse in the clutches of a house cat. The Wildcats led the Friars from wire to wire in the Big East match-up. Villanova jumped out to a 9-0 lead, which was soon increased to 17-3 at the 15:37 mark of the opening half.  The Wildcats then extended the lead to 26-8 with 13:06 to go in the half. At this point, Villanova had hit on 10 of 11 field goal attempts, including 4 of 5 from distance. Villanova kept increasing its lead throughout the first twenty minutes. The teams went to the locker room with Villanova up by a score of 50-26. This was done without a contribution from senior James Bell, Villanova’s second leading scorer (and leading rebounder), who picked up two quick fouls, and sat out the last 18+ minutes of the first half.

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Villanova shot a sizzling 19 of 33 from the field (57.6 %) in the first half. The Wildcats hit 7 of 13 three point attempts (53.8 %). Providence was held to 7 of 22 shooting (31.8 %), with star guard Bryce Cotton hitting 5 of his 7 shots, including 3 of 3 from distance. The rest of the Friars were a combined 2 for 15, and 0 of 3 on three pointers, in the half.

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Villanova continued its strong play throughout the second half.  The Wildcats made 15 of 24 field goal attempts (62.5 %), including hitting an identical 7 of 13 from behind the arc in the final twenty minutes. What stood out most starkly were the contributions provided by Villanova’s non-starters. The Wildcats’ bench players outscored Providence’s bench players 38-4. In particular, Dylan Ennis with a season high 17 points, Josh Hart, with another energetic performance, added 10 points and 6 rebounds, and Tony Chennault contributed 6 points and a team high 5 assists.

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JayVaughn Pinkston was Villanova’s high scorer with 19 points and Darrun Hilliard tallied 15 points for the Wildcats. Bell, who fouled out after playing a total of 5 minutes in the game, added 6 points, hitting two triples in his limited time on the court. Pinkston also led the Wildcats in rebounding with 7 boards. All ten of Villanova’s scholarship players scored in the contest and all 13 players got into the game.

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Providence’s leading scorer was Cotton with 25 points. LaDonte Henton added 17, and Kadeem Batts  had 10 points.

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With the win, Villanova’s record improved to 13-1 overall, 2-0 in the Big East. Villanova’s next game is at Seton Hall at 7pm on Wednesday, January 8th. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. Providence now stands at 10-5 overall, 0-2 in the Big East. The Friars next game is also on Wednesday night when they host the Georgetown Hoyas.

[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]

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