Senior forward Eric Paschall scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the second half as No. 13 Villanova rebounded from its first Big East Conference defeat with a convincing 85-67 victory over visiting Providence on Wednesday.
Senior guard Phil Booth added 22 points as the defending NCAA champion Wildcats (20-5, 11-1 Big East) earned their seventh consecutive 20-win season. Villanova has reached the 20-victory mark in 14 of the past 15 seasons.
Sophomore center Nate Watson scored 18 points for Providence, which lost for the fourth time in its past five games. The Friars (14-11, 4-8) fell to 0-2 against the Wildcats this season and are 13-32 at Villanova all-time.
The Wildcats returned home after a 66-65 defeat at No. 10 Marquette that ended their 11-game winning streak and their 10-game winning streak to open conference play, which was the best start in Big East play in program history.
Getting back on track Wednesday was not so simple as Villanova shot 40.7 percent from the field in the first half and just 27.3 percent from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes, but the Wildcats still held a 39-34 lead at the break. The Wildcats were 14 of 14 from the free-throw line in the first half while the Friars were 1 of 2.
Providence took a 57-55 lead with 9:17 remaining shortly after Villanova went through a five-minute scoring drought, but the Wildcats responded with a 7-0 run for a 62-57 lead and went on a late 15-2 surge to take control at 77-63.
Sophomore forward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree scored 12 points for Villanova before he fouled out with 2:29 remaining. Wildcats sophomore guard Collin Gillespie was 0-for-6 from 3-point range, but he managed to contribute with a career-high eight assists.
Junior guard Alpha Diallo, Providence’s leading scorer, had 11 points, under his season average of 17 per game. He led the Friars with seven rebounds.
Providence was just 1-for-9 from 3-point range in the second half, while Villanova went 7-for-12 from long distance after halftime following a 3-for-11 first half.
Villanova opened a one-game lead in the Big East Conference over Marquette. The Wildcats will head out for three consecutive road games before returning home Feb. 27 for a rematch with the Golden Eagles.
—Field Level Media