Only a couple days after lighting up the Carrier Dome and beating then 3rd ranked Syracuse, Villanova shot 32% from the field including 4-22 from three point range and was upset by an unranked Providence Friar squad, Wednesday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
After beating 19th ranked Louisville only 5 days before, Providence used a good man to man defense to stifle 7th ranked Villanova and win back to back games against ranked opponents for the first time in 12 years.
After beating Syracuse on Saturday and watching Pitt lose to Notre Dame, Villanova had a chance to end their 3 game road trip in first place in the Big East before heading home for 3 straight. Providence would not let them.
Playing like a team coming off an emotional win over a top 5 team and their 3rd straight road game, Villanova came out flat from the start shooting 26% in the first half, including 1-9 from three, digging themselves a 9 point hole at the half.
The Wildcats two leading scorers, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, couldn’t find the hoop in the first half, combining for 4 points on 0-13 shooting. A stingy, athletic Friars defense frustrated the Nova guards into contested shot after contested shot.
As the bricks mounted, the Wildcats looked like they could have an advantage on the boards as Mouph Yarou and Antonio Pena kept the Cats in the game early with some offensive rebounding and layups. However, after the Friars jumped out to a larger lead, Villanova seemed to abandon the inside game and continued to launch from deep.
Maalik Wayns kept Villanova close in the first half with 9 points on 4-8 shooting. He seemed to be the only guard willing to get into the lane and make things happen rather than continue to jack up threes.
It isn’t hard to believe why Villanova continued to bomb away from downtown after handling Syracuse only days earlier, and shooting the lights out in the process. But as they say, you live by the three, you die by the three.
Villanova died on Wednesday night.
Perhaps the only bright spot of the evening, was that any Villanova fan watching the game on television on the outskirts of Philadelphia did not get a chance to see the end, as the power went out in many houses in the area, due to over a foot of snowfall.
Just as fans started to believe this team was hitting its stride, the Wildcats were throttled by an up and coming Providence team trying to become just another Big East team to crack the top 25.
The Friars didn’t exactly light it up in the first half either. What started as an up tempo game, with both teams launching early and often, Providence shot only 33% in the first half, including 5-18 from three. Leading scorer, Marshon Brooks was held to 8 points on 2-10 shooting in the first half. However, Villanova was unable to maintain any sort of consistency on offense and trailed almost the entire game.
Despite the good defense in the first half, Villanova let an old weakness come back and bite them in the second half.
Last year, the Wildcats fouled more than any team in the Big East by a large margin, but they have been better this year. That changed in the second half on Wednesday night as they fouled the Friars 19 times and sent them to the line 30 times (they made 24 for 80%). Many of these fouls came at the end with the game out of reach, but many of them did not.
With Villanova within 7 in the second half, Maurice Sutton had a chance for a three point play, but missed an easy layup and then made 1 of 2 from the line. He then fouled twice in a matter of 30 seconds to put Providence in the bonus at the 10 minute mark. That was as close as Nova would get for the rest of the game.
Unable to put together any kind of run, Providence continued to sink their free throws and pull away from a tired looking Villanova squad.
As the seconds ticked off the clock, all Villanova could do was watch as a raucous Friar crowd flooded the court.
The good news for Villanova is that they will return home again for three straight. The bad news is that it will start with the 20th ranked Georgetown Bulldogs at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, where traveling has not been easy with the recent snow in the area.
With the quick turnaround and another ranked opponent on the horizon, it is essential for Villanova to have a short memory and forget about the dismal performance.
In such a tough league, you’re only as good as your last performance and come Saturday afternoon, Villanova hopes to be riding a good win against a solid Georgetown team back to the Pavilion, where they haven’t lost in 45 games.
About the Author
Written by Brendan Kelly
Hoops junkie. Graduated from Temple U with a broadcasting and communications degree looking to get into a career in sports, more specifically basketball.