By MIKE ANGELINA
In the rubber game of their three-game road trip, Villanova survived a double-overtime affair in Providence, R.I. The Wildcats edged the Friars 82-79 on Tuesday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
After failing to win the game in the final moments twice, Ryan Arcidiacono converted on the third try in the second overtime. The point guard placed the game-winning basket with three seconds left to give ‘Nova a two-point lead. Fouled in the process, he converted a free throw to make it a three point ball game.
Providence designed an effective play to get the ball up the court in three seconds, not having any timeouts to draw up a play. LaDontae Henton was able to release a shot before time expired, but it clanked off the side of the rim.
Villanova avoided its first losing streak of the season. For the third time this season, the Wildcats bounced back from a loss with a road overtime victory.
This game was an absolute dogfight, as each team matched each other for points in the first and second halves, and obviously the first overtime.
Providence got off to a 22-13 lead ten minutes into the game. Villanova called a timeout and slowly chip away at the lead before tying it right before the close of the half.
The Wildcats would slowly build a lead that grew to six late in the second half. With one minute remaining, they led by five. Darrun Hilliard would be called for a borderline foul in the back court as Bryce Cotton began bringing the ball up. Cotton hit each free throw and after James Bell turned the ball over, Henton would hit a three to knot the score at 63.
Arcidiacono missed badly on a three-point attempt and the game was sent to an extra session.
Trailing much of the first overtime, Daniel Ochefu got them within one and Hilliard to the left of the key hit a three to give the Wildcats a two-point edge. But Cotton, showing he’s the best guard in the league, placed a beautiful reverse lay-up from under the basket running down the baseline tied the game.
Wright again called a play for Arcidiacono and the sophomore missed a lay-up attempt driving inside. The game would go to the second overtime, where the game never was separated by more than three points. Down by three with thirty seconds left, Cotton drained a clutch three to tie the game once again, this time at 79. He led all scorers with 22 points.
It was after then when Arcidiacono, who led Villanova with 21 points, hit his game-winner. All five Villanova starters reached double figures in scoring. All but two points were scored by starters, and those two points came from Josh Hart, who fouled out with over four minutes left in regulation.
Villanova struggled early at the free throw line, which was a big reason the inferior Friars kept the game so close so long. Starting 7-for-14, they recovered late and finished 15-for-24, still only 62.5%. Providence dominated the boards, collecting 46 rebounds to Villanova’s 34.
The Wildcats will now return home following their three-game trip, during which they won two of three. Next up for them will be St. John’s Saturday at 1:30 p.m. from the Wells Fargo Center.