Providence College Friars (23-10) 68
#3 Villanova Wildcats (29-4) 76
If the Friars don't have both Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn clicking at an elite level, they have little to no chance of beating a top tier team like Villanova. Not only did they not have both of them playing well, they had neither of them. Ben Bentil struggled with ticky-tack foul trouble for most of the game, eventually fouling out pretty early in the 2nd half on a call where Josh Hart was creating all the contact on a drive that forced the ref to call the fifth on Bentil, even though he wasn't really doing anything.
Without Bentil to take on the majority of the offensive responsibilities, Villanova was able to focus all of their attention on Dunn, not letting him a single possession where he saw single coverage.
The rest of the Friars actually stepped up pretty big and put forth a valiant effort to keep this one close, eventually getting it to a one possession game late in the second half, but Providence wasn't able to close the gap all the way and eventually succumbed to Villanova for the second straight year in the Big East Tournament Semi-Final.
- Ben Bentil had a season-low 3 points, playing just 26 minutes before fouling out.
- Kris Dunn played the entire 40 minutes but was never able to get things going offensively, being double and triple-teamed throughout the game. Dunn finished just 1-8 for 9 points. The majority of those points came from the line (7-11). Dunn chipped in 6 assists for the contest.
- Bentil and Dunn combined to go 2-13 from the floor for just 12 points. Those 12 points are a combined 25.2 points below their combined per game average (21.2 for Bentil/16.0 for Dunn).
- Rodney Bullock stepped up in this game and played like the Rodney Bullock from the beginning of the season. Bullock finished with a team-high 18 points on 7-11 shooting, and took in 7 rebounds. However, Bullock was also hamstrung with some foul trouble of his own during the game. The 18 points were the most in his last 7 games and the second highest total in his last 19 games on the season. Bullock was especially efficient from three, nailing 4 of his 5 shots from deep.
- Another high note in the game was Kyron Cartwright. Cartwright plays with an aggressiveness and confidence that really shines through in a big game like this. In 28 minutes of the bench, Cartwright scored 14 points on 6-10 shooting and added 3 assists and just 1 turnover. Kyron has really excelled in limiting his turnovers when taking on a larger role in the offense when needed.
- Drew Edwards had his first noticeably very good game in a while, scoring 7 points in just 10 minutes of action. When Edwards attacks the middle of the floor with his jump stop, he really opens up holes in the middle of a defense and in turn, pulls in help defenders off of shooters. Edwards lost his shot over the second half of the season but may looked to have found it in this game, much like Lindsey did at the end of last season. Edwards went 1-2 from three point range after hitting only 1 three in his previous 18 games. I did not realize the shooting numbers had run that cold for him. He made just 1 three in his last 14 attempts of that period. Now, that's not a ton of total attempts, but going 0-1 basically every game isn't a great look. Hopefully performing well on the big stage will help get some confidence back in his shot.
- I don't want to talk about any Villanova players.
- I was in attendance for this game and the atmosphere was top notch. Both this game and the Seton Hall/Xavier game were high energy games that the crowd brought to another level.
A couple of pics from the game. I was sitting a section over from Hugh Jackman at the game but I forgot to snap a picture of him. Sorry, I was too into the game I was watching.