Jan. 19, 2013
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Bryce Cotton, the leading scorer in the BIG EAST, scored 23 points here today to lead Providence to a 69-66 victory over Villanova in a men's basketball game played at the Dunkin Donuts Center. The Wildcats are now 11-7 overall, 2-3 in the BIG EAST while the Friars improve to 10-8 overall, 2-4 in the conference.
Cotton tallied 24 points for the Friars while sophomore JayVaughn Pinkston paced the `Cats with 20 points.
"I thought we played a good first half," stated VU coach Jay Wright of his team, which led 31-24 at intermission. "In the second half, we turned it over too much. When you have 25 turnovers you are going to have a hard time winning the game."
Those 25 VU turnovers were a season-high and contributed to a 30-6 edge in points off of turnovers for Providence. The Wildcats were also hurt by 19 Friar offensive rebounds.
"I just think they're a great offensive rebounding team," stated Wright. "They are very quick to the basketball."
Both teams struggled to find an offensive flow early. Villanova responded with eight consecutive points after falling behind 2-0 and held an 11-6 lead through eight minutes of play. JayVaughn Pinkston was the early scoring catalyst for VU, dropping in eight of those first 11 points.
The Wildcats found themselves with early foul issues, however. Both Mouphtaou Yarou and Ryan Arcidiacono picked up two fouls before the game was five minutes old and James Bell joined them in that circumstance not long after.
Providence reeled off six straight points to regain the lead at 12-11 before Pinkston answered with a basket in deep. That was followed by a long distance three by Achraf Yacoubou to give VU a 16-12 advantage with 6:51 left in the first period.
The Wildcats got a boost from Hilliard, who drilled his own long-range three as part of an 8-0 surge that helped VU build a 28-16 advantage with 3:11 remaining in the period. Pinkston, though, became the fourth Cat starter in foul trouble when he went to the bench with his second with just over four minutes to go in the stanza.
Providence chipped into the lead at the free throw line and narrowed the deficit to 31-24 at the half. VU limited PC to 6-of-30 from the field (.200) but the Friars stayed close with their work on the backboards (24-17 edge) and with 11 free throws in 20 attempts.
Pinkston and Hilliard contributed 10 points each to lead the Wildcats. Cotton paced the Friars with seven points in the first half.
The Friars defensive pressure created a surge for the home team at the start of the second half. Providence outscored the Wildcats 9-4 over the first four minutes of the period to narrow the gap to 35-33 as Council sparked the Friars with seven of those points. A Council runner in the lane tied the score with 15:26 to play. Kris Dunn followed with a drive and score to push the Friars in front at 37-35.
The contest remained close through the middle portion of the second half. Villanova grabbed a 52-48 lead when Pinkston converted a drive through the lane. But the sophomore soon picked up his fourth foul and the Friars' defensive pressure created steals that turned the tide. Providence regained the lead at 54-52 with just over four minutes to play in the period.
The lead grew to 58-54 after a VU turnover led to a Sidiki Johnson basket from in tight with 2:51 remaining. The Cats drew back to 60-57 with just under two minutes left after a Darrun Hilliard tip-in but Cotton drained a three with 1:01 left to extend the advantage to 63-57. That lead grew to 67-59 before a late rush by the Wildcats pulled them back within 67-64 after a technical foul call on Kris Dunn. Hilliard got a look at a three to tie it but the shot caromed off the rim.
The final count was 69-66.
Next on the schedule for Villanova is a pair of home games this week at the Wells Fargo Center against two top 10 teams. Louisville, which is at the top of this week's polls, visits on Tuesday night (8:00 p.m./PHL 17 and 610 WIP Radio) followed by Syracuse on Saturday morning (11 a.m./ESPNU and 610 WIP).
Notes - Providence owned an overall 41-35 rebounding edge ... The 48 free throw attempts by the Friars were two shy of the most ever attempted against Villanova. Rutgers made 50 visits to the line during a game in 1999 ... The Wildcats owned a 31-4 edge in bench scoring.