January 24, 2018 / 1:55 AM / in 2 months

No. 1 Villanova pounds Providence despite slow start

Eric Paschall scored 17 points, Omari Spellman added 16 and top-ranked Villanova overcame a sluggish start to defeat Providence 89-69 Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Jalen Brunson contributed 15 for the Wildcats (19-1, 6-1 Big East). Donte DiVincenzo, Mikal Bridges and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree had 11 apiece, with Cosby-Roundtree setting a career high.

The Wildcats shot 50 percent (33 of 66) overall from the floor and 12 of 29 (41.4 percent) from 3-point territory.

Rodney Bullock led Providence (14-7, 5-3) with 16 points while Jalen Lindsey added 14. Kyron Cartwright and Alpha Diallo had 12 points each, but the Friars committed 14 costly turnovers.

The Friars fell to 2-15 all-time against the top-ranked team in the country. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier with consecutive road games looming at Seton Hall and Marquette.

The Friars didn’t let a nine-point halftime deficit deter them as they trailed only 44-41 with 15:03 remaining. Relentless rebounding and tough defense seemed to frustrate the Wildcats, and suddenly it was a one possession game.

Paschall came back for Villanova with a rare four-point play as he was fouled while hitting a 3-pointer. The free throw moved the lead back to 48-41.

Even though Providence failed to hit a field goal in a four-minute stretch, it still trailed just 52-44.

The Wildcats scored the next seven points with Spellman draining a deep 3-pointer for a 58-44 bulge.

Brunson’s 3-pointer following an offensive rebound by DiVincenzo gave Villanova a 66-50 lead. Spellman then hit a nifty left-handed hook shot for a 68-50 advantage with 7:16 remaining.

DiVincenzo hit a trey for a 78-60 Villanova lead with 3:57 left and essentially sealed the victory.

Providence was aggressive from the opening tip and rolled to a 24-15 lead.

Villanova responded with an 8-0 run to pull within one. The Wildcats got red hot, converted nine straight shots and turned a 14-0 run into a 37-26 lead. DiVincenzo knocked down a short jumper for a 39-30 advantage heading into halftime.

The Wildcats recovered from missing 13 of their first 17 shots.

—Field Level Media

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