Providence Hangs On: Friars Beat #10 Villanova

Providence, building a massive first half lead, withstood a surge from the shorthanded Villanova Wildcats and defeated them 54-52 to close the regular season on a high note.

With this win, the Providence Friars close the regular season at 13-12 and 6th in the Big East.

We revisit the key themes heading into the game from our preview article (https://theprovidencecrier.com/2021/03/06/providence-wraps-up-regular-season-against-villanova-prep-for-big-east-tournament-ahead/#more-3352) and discuss relevant topics heading into the Big East Tournament.

  1. Friars use the lack of guard experience on the Wildcats to limit their offensive output: Villanova only committed 8 turnovers, but had a season low of 52 points. Providence’s defense made it possible for the Friars to win, even with Providence only scoring 16 total points in the second half. Kudos to the defense for locking in when the offense wasn’t clicking in the second half.
  2. Watson gets the better of JRE: Nate Watson was not only productive yesterday, but extremely efficient as well. Watson scored 20 points on 8-13 shooting and stayed out of foul trouble. Most important, Robinson-Earl only scored 11 points on 5-15 shooting. Watson continues to be the best offensive big man in the Big East and can score seemingly at will.
  3. Duke produces, albeit inefficiently: Duke had 20 points and 7 rebounds, but that came on 21 shot attempts. We’d like to see Duke be more efficient from the field, but he did save the day on the tip-in to seal the victory. Duke Jr. isn’t perfect by any means, but he came through in the clutch when Providence needed him most. With Watson and Duke, Providence arguably has the two best players on the court in most games. That is a recipe for a potential March run at MSG.
  4. No production outside of Horchler, Watson, and Duke: This trio scored 50 points. Providence scored 54 total points. It is amazing that Providence was able to win given that, outside of the 3 players, Providence totaled 4 points from 5 other people. If Providence is going to make a run in the Big East Tournament, there needs to be more consistent production from folks outside of Horchler, Watson, and Duke. Horchler seems to have found his role on this team, but we are still seeing inconsistency from Reeves and Bynum. Providence is going to need those two to be an offensive threat so teams don’t exclusively game plan around stopping Watson and Duke.
  5. Friars continue to struggle holding a lead: In the last two games against Villanova & St. Johns, Providence has been outscored in the second half by 15 and 25, respectively. Providence seems to be able to jump out to an early lead, which is fantastic. Don’t get me wrong. The issue is they continue to let up big leads. Providence was up 17 at half yesterday. Villanova, without Gillespie and Moore, shouldn’t have been able to claw back into the game. No lead is safe in the Big East, but Providence needs to learn to put the game away when presented with the opportunity.

Providence’s next game is at 9PM Wednesday against DePaul. The winner faces off against the scorching hot UCONN Huskies.

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