EditorsNote: fixes “63-61” in second graf
Eric Paschall scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as top-seeded Villanova defeated Providence 73-62 in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Collin Gillespie added 19 points and Phil Booth had 13 for the No. 25-ranked Wildcats, who will face fourth-seeded Xavier in the semifinals Friday. The Musketeers beat fifth-seeded Creighton 63-61 on Thursday.
Villanova (23-9) won all three games against Providence this season.
Nate Watson led the eighth-seeded Friars (18-15) with 15 points while Alpha Diallo and Isaiah Jackson added 14 each.
Though Villanova struggled early with its shooting, it managed 10 offensive rebounds and held a seven-point lead at halftime.
Providence continued to battle and David Duke scored in the lane with 14:37 remaining to close within 36-32. Villanova scored the next four points to go back ahead 40-32.
Gillespie’s driving layup gave the Wildcats a 42-36 lead with 11:29 remaining.
Jackson responded with five straight points to bring Providence within one point, and Diallo later converted a three-point play to tie the game at 44.
Gillespie made a trey and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree hit a pair of free throws as the Wildcats regained the lead at 49-44 with 8:08 left. Gillespie’s fifth 3-pointer of the game put Villanova ahead 57-48 with 5:27 remaining.
Providence closed within 63-58, but the Wildcats were able to pull away down the stretch.
Providence took an early 9-2 lead as Villanova missed six of its first seven shots.
The Wildcats — who have won the conference tournament in each of the past two seasons — scored the next seven points. Gillespie tied the game at 9 on a 3-pointer with 12:21 left in the first half.
Paschall then converted a three-point play and Booth knocked down a trey to cap a 13-0 run for a 15-9 advantage.
Watson played a stellar all-around half for the Friars and kept them within 31-24 at the break. Watson scored nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. Diallo, meanwhile, was in foul trouble and scored only three points in the opening half.
—Field Level Media