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No. 10 Villanova escapes with road win over No. 8 Providence

Feb 12, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Villanova Wildcats forward Eric Dixon (43) controls the ball against Seton Hall Pirates forward Tyrese Samuel (4) in the second half at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

Collin Gillespie scored 33 points and hit a clutch three-pointer in the final minute to help No. 10 Villanova outlast No. 8 Providence for an 89-84 win in a Big East showdown for first place Tuesday night in Providence, R.I.

After Al Durham’s basket with 50 seconds to go cut Villanova’s lead to 82-80, Gillespie drained a three with 28 seconds to go to extend the lead to five. He then sank two foul shots with 20 seconds left to give Villanova (20-6, 13-3) an 87-80 lead.

Justin Moore had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Brandon Slater scored 13 points for the Wildcats.

Nate Watson scored 20 points and Jared Bynum had 18 for the Friars (21-3, 11-2), who are now 14-1 at home this season. A.J. Reeves scored 16 points and Durham had 13 for Providence, which trails Villanova by one-half game but has a better record in terms of percentage.

A 9-2 run put Villanova ahead 73-66 when Slater sank two foul shots with 5:46 to go. But Durham’s putback, which resulted in a three-point play, trimmed the Wildcats’ lead to 73-70 with 4:57 left.

Gillespie’s trey off a second-chance opportunity put the visitors up 78-73 with 3:01 to go. Jermaine Samuels had the clutch offensive board. Watson’s three-point play cut it to 78-76, but Slater’s baseball-style pass on the inbounds found Dixon for a layup and an 80-76 lead. However, he could not finish the three-point play.

Durham’s baseline jumper rolled in to cut the deficit to two with 1:15 to go, but Gillespie answered with two free throws for a four-point lead with 55 seconds left.

The Friars stayed close early in the second half but were not able to tie the score or retake the lead until more than halfway through the period. Reeves’ basket with 13:30 to go cut the deficit to 58-56, and Bynum’s lefty driving layup trimmed the Wildcats’ lead to 64-62 with 10:24 left.

Finally, Durham’s baseline drive tied the score at 64 with 9:22 left, but Caleb Daniels answered on the next possession with a trey for Villanova, putting the Wildcats ahead to stay, 67-64.

The Wildcats led for most of the first half, opening the game with an 8-2 run capped by Slater’s 3-pointer from the left corner.

Ed Croswell’s basket gave the Friars their first lead at 25-24 with 7:16 to go, but Slater’s stop-and-go drive 21 seconds later put Villanova back on top. After Noah Horchler’s bank shot gave the Friars a 32-31 lead, Moore drained a three from the right wing.

Villanova closed the first half with a 9-3 run highlighted by Gillespie’s driving layup for a 46-39 lead at intermission.

–Field Level Media

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