Jan. 23, 2013
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - In a game with dramatic swings of momentum Villanova (15-3, 4-1 BIG EAST) saw a 19-point halftime lead evaporate and eventually lost by a final score of 65-60 in overtime to Providence (6-12, 1-4 BIG EAST) at Mullaney Gymnasium on Wednesday night. The loss snaps a six-game winning streak for the Wildcats, who lost their first conference game of the season.
Sophomore forward Lauren Burford (Fairfax, Va.) scored a career-high 20 points and senior forward Laura Sweeney (Marlton, N.J.) notched her fifth double-double of the season but the Friars tied the game on a layup with six seconds left in regulation and later took the lead for good on a basket with 1:26 left in the overtime period.
Villanova had been in complete command of the game and led 29-10 at halftime thanks to a 21-0 run that lasted more than 12 minutes in the first half. In an astonishing twist of fate however, Providence scored the first 21 points of the second half and erased the Wildcats big lead in less than eight minutes.
Late in regulation a jumper by senior forward Megan Pearson (West Chester, Pa.) with 3:57 left gave Villanova a 47-45 lead, which Sweeney extended to 49-45 on a pair of free throws with 3:23 remaining. After the free throws the Wildcats came up empty on their next three offensive possessions and the Friars chipped away at the deficit.
Sweeney made the first of two free throws with 34 seconds left in regulation for a 50-47 advantage Burford made the first of two foul shots with 13 seconds left to give Villanova a 51-49 lead. Providence quickly drove the length of the court and Symone Roberts tied the score with six seconds left to force the extra period.
In overtime Burford hit a three-pointer with 2:32 to play to give the Wildcats their only lead of the extra period at 57-55. At the other end the Friars grabbed offensive rebounds of successive misses and Chanise Baldwin scored to tie the game at 57-57 with 1:55 left. Her basket started an 8-0 run by Providence, which eventually scored 10 of the final 13 points of the game.
The ability of the Friars to crash the offensive glass was a major factor in the game's outcome, as Providence turned 30 offensive rebounds into a 29-12 edge in second chance points. The Friars had an overall rebounding edge of 65-40 for the night.
Burford shot 7-of-16 from the field, including 4-of-10 from three-point range, while recording her first career 20-point game. Sweeney finished the night with 15 points, 11 rebounds, a career-high five blocks and four steals while posting a double-double for the 14th time in her career.
In the first half Sweeney scored nine of her 15 points and was the only Villanova player with more than five points in a period that saw the Wildcats go 11-of-28 (.393) from the field while holding Providence to a dismal 3-for-30 (.100) shooting performance.
After the Friars scored the first four points of the game Villanova got on the board when sophomore forward Taylor Holeman (Los Angeles, Calif.) made a layup with 17:26 left in the opening half. Burford made her only basket of the first half just 22 seconds later and, when Sweeney scored on the next Wildcats possession, the big run was on.
Providence went from the 17:55 mark of the first half to the 5:51 mark of the period without scoring a single point and a layup by Sweeney with 7:16 remaining before the intermission extended the Villanova lead to 21-4. In the closing minutes before halftime the Wildcats lead was as many as 21 points (29-8) before a pair of free throws by the Friars in the last minute of the period led to the 19-point margin at the break.
In the second half Villanova went 0-for-10 from the field and committed three turnovers in less than seven minutes and Providence went ahead 31-29 with 13:24 left in regulation on a Roberts three-pointer. After that shot there would end up being four lead changes in the next two minutes as both teams tried to regain an advantage.
Brianna Edwards had 14 points and 16 rebounds (10 offensive) for the Friars, while Roberts scored 20 points and had eight rebounds. Tori Rule rounded out three Providence players in double figures with a 19-point effort.
Next up for the Wildcats is a Saturday night home game against Syracuse at 6 p.m. This weekend Villanova is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the 2002-03 squad which won a BIG EAST championship and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. As part of the weekend's festivities former Wildcat star Trish Juhline will have her jersey retired at halftime of Saturday night's game.