VILLANOVA, PA. 1/5/2014 – The # 11/14 Villanova Wildcats started quickly on offense and defense breezing to a 91 – 61 victory over the Providence Friars in a Big East game at the Pavilion. In the first eight minutes of the game Villanova had it going on offense making 10 of 12 from the field and 4 of 6 three-pointers. The Wildcats were also playing well on the defensive end of the floor holding the Friars to 2 of 10 shooting. Villanova Coach Jay Wright thought the good shooting and defense forced a short-handed Providence into a type of game they did not want to play.
“I think our start, jumping on Providence like we did, had a big impact because they’ve lost a lot of guys – they don’t have a lot of depth,” said Wright. “When you get a lead like that, it’s tough for them to play from behind. It kind of all fell into place for us. I guarantee it won’t be like that when we go at Providence, I promise you, so we’ll take it. I think the key was jumping on them and getting out early. We do have good depth, and it’s tough for them to play from behind.”
The Wildcats jumped out to a 27 – 8 lead with 11:53 remaining in the first half. That lead would grow to 50 – 26 at halftime. The largest advantage for the Wildcats was 34 points the last at 77 – 43 with just under nine and a half minutes to play.
Ten of the thirteen Villanova player who were on the floor scored. Senior forward JayVaughn Pinkston led the way for the Wildcats with 19 points. Sophomore guard Dylan Ennis scored a career-high 17 points making 6 of 9 from the floor, 4 – 5 from beyond the arc. Junior guard Darrun Hilliard scored 15 points while freshman guard Josh Hart rounded out the double-figures scorers for Villanova with 10 points. The Wildcats shot 34 – 57 (59.6%) for the game, and made 14 of 26 (53.8%) three-point shots. Villanova was credited with 19 assists on their 34 baskets.
“Obviously it’s good for us when the shots are falling, but we don’t really pride ourselves on making shots,” said Hilliard. “It’s all about defense and rebounding. That’s what we come into games thinking about, that’s what we pride ourselves on. When shots are falling, it’s easier for us, but we pride ourselves on getting stops and rebounding.”
Providence senior guard Bryce Cotton led all scorers with 25 points and handed out a game-best 6 assists. Junior forward LaDonte Henton added 17 points while senior forward Kadeem Batts added 10 points. The Friars went 18 of 51 from the field (35.3%). Providence Coach Ed Cooley said it is hard to beat Villanova when they are shooting so well and his team is not.
“They shot the ball really well and we didn’t,” said Cooley. “They can beat anybody in the country if there making shots like that. If your making shots like that they could beat the Harlem Globe Trotters.”
Villanova improves to 13 – 1 on the season and is 2 – 0 in Big East play. The Wildcats prepare for a January 8 game at Seton Hall before travelling to St. John’s three days later.
Written By: Glenn Papazian