Feb. 7, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - JayVaughn Pinkston scored the final nine points of the game for Villanova to put the cap on a furious rally from a 19-point deficit in the second half and lead the Wildcats to a 74-72 victory over Providence in a BIG EAST contest played at the Pavilion on Tuesday evening.
The Wildcats improved to 11-13 overall, 4-8 in the BIG EAST while the Friars dropped to 13-12 overall, 2-10 in conference action. The rally from the second half deficit is the largest since VU rallied to upend LSU in December 2007, 68-67.
Pinkston sank the winning basket on a layup with 24 seconds left. The `Cats then came up with a stop in the final possession, with the exclamation point coming on a blocked shot by junior center Maurice Sutton.
Villanova mounted the comeback without Maalik Wayns, who injured his left knee in the first half and then tweaked it again in the second half. The junior from Philadelphia left the game with 11:31 to play and did not return. He is expected to undergo an MRI on Wednesday.
"When one guy goes down," stated junior Dominic Cheek, who finished with 17 points on the night, "someone else has to step up."
That person, in many important ways, was Pinkston. The freshman ended the evening with a season high 28 points and 14 rebounds. He was 10-of-18 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
"I'm just so happy for him," stated Wright. "He is the most coachable kid in the world. He does whatever we tell him and to see him have a night like this was great."
The Friars gained the upper hand over the game's first eight minutes, building an 18-11 edge thanks to their work on the offensive glass. That helped Providence sink eight of its first 14 field goal attempts, including a pair of triples from Bryce Cotton.
For the Wildcats, Pinkston sparked the offense, scoring nine points in the first 13 minutes of the second half to pull VU to within 24-23 with 6:43 to go in the first half.
On the Friars' next trip down the floor, Vincent Council drove to the basket and junior Maalik Wayns was whistled for his second foul of the period. He headed to the bench with 5:37 to play in the first half.
A Dominic Cheek 3-point goal gave VU the lead back at 16-2 run sparked by the work of Cotton to take a 44-30 lead at halftime. Most of the run came with Pinkston in the training room while he was receiving treatment for a cut over his left eye incurred during a battle under the boards with 3:45 to play in the half.
Pinkston received five stitches and returned in the second half.
"I forgot it was there," stated Pinkston of the cut afterward. "I just collided with Coleman's head or elbow and it opened up."
The Friars connected on 15-of-25 field goal attempts in the first half, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc. Cotton was 6-of-7 from deep to finish with 18 points. Gerard Coleman added 12 points and PC owned a 16-13 advantage on the backboards.
Villanova was paced by Pinkston's 11 points and six rebounds and Yarou's nine points and four caroms.
The lead grew to 55-36 for Providence with 16:25 to play.
"In that situation you know the only chance you have is if you keep playing," stated Wright. "If you give in to the situation, you have no chance. We just kept grinding. We extended our defense and just did a much better job of that in the second half."
A pair of Yarou free throws brought Villanova to within 60-51 with 11:31 left in the second period. It was at that point that Wayns' knee was wrapped in ice, ending his evening.
However, even without their scoring leader, the `Cats kept coming. They finally erased the entire deficit when Dominic Cheek sank a 3-pointer from the corner with just over five minutes to play.
"I thought Tyrone Johnson did a great job defensively against Council," stated Wright. "(Council) leads the Big East in assists and he does a great job of finding their shooters for open looks. Tyrone did a good job of keeping him in front of him."
But Providence bounced back with a 5-0 run to regain the lead with 3:58 to play.
Then it became Pinkston time. The native of Brooklyn, N.Y., helped eradicate that 68-63 lead, capping it with the go-ahead score.
"I saw a lane to the basket and drove the ball," he stated of the final offensive possession.