Friars Defeated By Villanova In Overtime In BIG EAST Championship


The Providence College Friars suffered a heartbreaking 76-66 overtime loss to Villanova in the Big East Championship game on Saturday night at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

This was typical Big East Tournament action. Syracuse is at the top with five straight appearances.

The Friars actually took the lead with under a minute left. Cartwright had eight points in the run and Watson seven. "They had the ball and we were fortunate that they missed", a wide open 3-pointer from the left corner by Mitch Bullock. Bridges added 25, including two 3-pointers in overtime.

Brunson tied a career high with 31 points while Bridges - named the Dave Gavitt Award victor as Most Outstanding Player - added 25 points.

The Villanova Wildcats advanced to a familiar situation on Friday: the Big East championship game.

Villanova beat Providence in overtime in tonight's Big East Tournament title game.

Crunch time was dominated by classic plays. With 12 points and 12 rebounds, Omari Spellman put together a good game for Villanova. Two more Providence free throws closed the lead to 65-64 before Bridges picked up a loose ball near the same spot he had made the earlier triple and poured in another 3-pointer to make it 68-64 in favor of the Cats at the 2:08 mark of overtime.

In describing Jalen Brunson, above, Villanova Coach Jay Wright said Xavier Coach "Chris Mack had the greatest line: He said if you pull down the skin on his face, there would be wires behind it".

Diallo came back with a driving layup, but Brunson hit a fall away to give the Wildcats a four point-lead, once again, and the Friars never got back within one possession.

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Villanova took a 31-27 advantage into the intermission.

The Friars are moving on.

The senior point guard pump faked three times at the top of the key and then splashed a three-pointer to get the Friars within five. The Wildcats have won their last three games by 24, 24 and 19 points, not exactly a tune-up for something called March Madness.

Big East player of the year Jalen Brunson tied it for Villanova with two free throws. "They didn't miss to start the game". "[Kyron] Cartwright and [Jalen] Lindsey are tough to guard", Wright said. His free throw gave PC the lead and capped a 14-2 run to set up plenty of drama in the final seconds and then yet another extra five minutes of basketball.

Closing out yet another comeback (they trailed by 12 in the second half) and taking home the Big East title would have been an incredible feat, but if anything, Providence enters the 2018 Tournament with a renewed sense that they can play with anyone in the country.

Villanova had rolled to a pair of dominant victories in the tourney and held off a pesky Providence team that finally wilted late in its third straight overtime game.

Mikal Bridges led the way for Villanova with 18 points.

Sophomore Alpha Diallo led three scorers in double figures for the upset-minded Friars with 22 points and 10 rebounds. He can rebound with the best of them and step out to hit jumpers from deep. He had made 11 field goals with 13 minutes left in the game, but finished with 12 in total, thanks in large part to the effort of Edwards.