PC Upsets #3 Villanova, Friar Faithful Storm Court

The Providence men’s basketball team defeated No. 2/3 Villanova on Wednesday night, 76-71, in front of a sold out crowd (12,887) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

The Friars (17-9, 8-5) are now 2-0 versus top-5 ranked teams this season at home with the other win coming in an 81-72 victory over then No. 5 Xavier on January 6.

It is the first time Providence has beaten a team ranked as high as No. 3 since February 24, 2009 when the Friars defeated No. 1 Pittsburgh.

The Friars players and fans participated in a "pink out" for the showdown as part of Providence College’s brand new partnership with University Surgical Associates to support cancer awareness.

Senior Kyron Cartwright (Compton, Calif.) led the Friars with 17 points and five assists.

Senior Rodney Bullock (Hampton, Va.) had 12 of his 14 points in the second half, while sophomore Alpha Diallo (New York, N.Y.) scored 14 points and junior Jalen Lindsey (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) poured in 13 points.

Providence led 67-58 with just over three minutes to play, but dunks by Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman trimmed the Friars advantage to 67-62.

The two sides traded a pair at the free throw line leaving the Friars up 69-64 with 48.9 left.

Villanova pulled within three as Collin Gillespie scored five straight points leaving the Friars lead at 72-69 with 29 seconds left in the game.

Cartwright split two trips to the foul line to push Providence’s lead back up to five, but a Paschall put-back once again cut the Friars’ advantage to three with 14.4 to play.

Diallo, however, stepped up and connected on two at the stripe to push the lead back up to five and seal the Friars’ win over the No. 2/3 Wildcats.

Providence held a 27-23 lead to begin the second half and used a three-point parade to extend its lead as PC shot 5-11 from behind the arc (46 %) in the second half.

Lindsey began the barrage with a triple off a tip out from Kalif Young (Vaughan, Ontario), and Cartwright followed up with a second chance trey of his own.

Cartwright then took over knocking down a jumper in the lane through contact before splashing a deep three-pointer off the catch to give the Friars a 39-31 lead with 16:05 left.

A three-pointer from Mikal Bridges cut the Friars lead back down to four, but a pair of strong finishes by Bullock, including a two-handed slam, increased Providence’s advantage back up to 46-39 at the under 12 timeout.  

Villanova got as close as two points, 49-47 lead, with just over 10 minutes to play but a spurt from Bullock quickly widened the gap.

Bullock first drove baseline for a dunk before drilling a wing three-pointer. The senior forward then capped off his run of seven straight points with a finish at the basket off a feed from Cartwright to give the Friars a 56-49 lead.

Providence jumped out to a 7-0 lead within the first two minutes as Diallo and Young  each connected at the rim, and Lindsey hit a transition three-pointer.

Villanova got on the board on a pair of buckets from Donte DiVincenzo and Jalen Brunson, but Diallo came right back with a driving layup to put Providence up 11-6 at the first media timeout.

The Friars maintained a five-point lead at the under 12 media timeout but a Brunson spinning layup and a Bridges mid-range jumper pulled the Wildcats within 17-16 with 8:15 left in the opening half.

Villanova took its first lead, 18-17 of the game on a Bridges dunk.

Providence, meanwhile, went cold from the field going 5:25 without a point before two free throws from Jackson tied the score at 19.

Moments later, Jackson pushed the Friars back in front drilling a three-pointer from the left wing to give Providence a 22-21 advantage with 2:04 to play.

Lindsey increased the Friars’ lead up to four before the break sinking a corner three-pointer to put the Friars up 27-23 at the half.

Next up, the Friars travel to Indianapolis on Saturday, February 17 to take on Butler with tipoff scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on FOX.