Villanova Wildcats

No surprise, Villanova delivers in crunch time to beat Providence, advance in Big East Tournament

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No surprise, Villanova delivers in crunch time to beat Providence, advance in Big East Tournament

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — With its chances of a third straight Big East Conference Tournament title on the line, the players who carried No. 25 Villanova most of the season stepped up and took control.

Eric Paschall had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Collin Gillespie hit two 3-pointers in a game-deciding 17-5 run and point guard Phil Booth was a steadying influence as the top-seeded Wildcats beat Providence 73-62 in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

"Coach tells us we have to lead by example, talk to our younger guys and just do all the little things — playing defense, rebounding, not worrying about if our shot's going in," Paschall said. "I just feel like our whole team has been doing that. Our whole team's had a great attitude, and we're taking a step in the right direction."

Gillespie added 19 points and six assists and Booth had 13 points as the top-seeded Wildcats (23-9) beat the Friars (18-15) for the third time this season.

The defending national champions will face fourth-seeded Xavier (18-14) in the semifinals Friday at Madison Square Garden. The Musketeers edged fifth-seeded Creighton 63-61 in the second quarterfinal.

Nate Watson had 15 points to lead Providence, which was playing its second game in 18 hours. Alpha Diallo and Isaiah Jackson added 14 apiece for the Friars.

"I feel like the second half, we made adjustments and came out and gave ourselves a chance," Jackson said. "Just lack of discipline in the second half kind of hurt us -- late switches, miscommunication, offensive rebounds, threes — it just killed us in the second half."

Providence rallied from eight down to tie the game at 44 on a 3-point play by Diallo with 9:18 left.

Gillespie, who was 7 of 15 from the field, then took over. He hit a pair of 3-pointers in the big run while Paschall had a basket and 3-pointer. Providence drew to 63-58 on two free throws by Jackson but came no closer.

"He's the guy that really had the significant playing time last year, even though it wasn't a lot, but we count on him in some clutch situations," Villanova coach Jay Wright said of Gillespie. "Again, he's another guy who's a sophomore and kind of treating him like a senior. He's got to be a leader, and he's got a lot on his shoulders too. He's been awesome all year."

The opening 20 minutes was a series of runs. Providence took a 9-2 lead and the Wildcats responded with 15 straight points. The Friars came back and led 23-22, but Villanova closed the half with a 9-1 run that featured 3-point baskets by Gillespie, Cole Swider and a three-point play by Booth.

Big picture

Providence: Hoping to get in the NIT.

"If we get in, I'll be very excited. I hope we do," Providence coach Ed Cooley said. "If we're not, I'm going to be really proud of the guys and the effort that they had. But we left a lot of games on the table with our inconsistent approach in some of the games."

Villanova: Assured an NCAA Tournament berth.

Up next

Providence: Will probably end up in NIT.

Villanova: Plays Xavier in semifinals Friday. The teams split in the regular season, with the Musketeers winning the second game 66-54.

Edwards leads Purdue to rout of reigning champ Villanova

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Edwards leads Purdue to rout of reigning champ Villanova

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Carsen Edwards had a career night, scoring 42 points as Purdue knocked reigning national champion Villanova out of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night in an 87-61 rout.

Matt Haarms added 18 points and nine rebounds for the third-seeded Boilermakers (25-9), who advanced to their third straight Sweet 16.

Eric Paschall had 19 for Villanova (26-10), which saw its quest for a third national title in the last four seasons end during the tournament's first weekend. Fellow senior Phil Booth scored 15 points, putting him over 1,500 for his career.

Edwards has battled a sore back and had been in a recent shooting slump, making just 7 of 23 shots from the field in Purdue's first-round win over Old Dominion. He found the bottom of the net early and often against `Nova, making 12 of his 21 shots, including nine of 16 from behind the arc.

Purdue shot 54 percent while holding Villanova to just 20 baskets on 58 shots (34 percent).

Purdue jumped out early, building a 13-point lead thanks to Edwards' outside shooting and Haarms' work down low.

The 7-foot-3 Dutchman towered over the shorter Wildcats, who didn't start anyone over 6-8. He had Purdue's first four points on a dunk and a put-back. Edwards hit five of his nine first-half shots, all of which came from three-point range.

Purdue had nine three-point baskets in the first half and a dunk by Haarms put the Boilermakers up 43-24 at intermission.

Another dunk from the Dutchman extended the lead to 35 in the second half. Villanova chipped away but the sixth seeded Big East champions did not have weapons to make it a game.

Defending champion Villanova shows its experience in NCAA Tournament first-round win over Saint Mary's

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Defending champion Villanova shows its experience in NCAA Tournament first-round win over Saint Mary's

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HARTFORD, Conn. — Villanova got off to a slow start in defense of its NCAA championship against a determined, defensive-minded Saint Mary's team that came in confident after a season-defining win.

But the Wildcats, a No. 6 seed in this NCAA Tournament after an up-and-down season, have one thing no team in the field of 64 has: a pair of leaders who have won two national titles.

 NPhil Booth scored 20 points, fellow senior Eric Paschell added 14 and Villanova held off 11th-seeded Saint Mary's 61-57 on Thursday night.

"We're growing, our young guys are growing, but we have two seniors who do everything for us, on and off the court," coach Jay Wright said. "We're just so lucky to have them."

Sophomore Jermaine Sameuls added 12 points for the Wildcats (26-9), who led for almost 33 minutes, but never by more than eight points.

"The tempo was excruciating," Wright said. "We felt going in we were going to have to grind with them."

The Gaels used the same slow pace to upset Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament, and it gave them a chance against Villanova (26-9) in a tense opening-round matchup.

Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts each had 13 points for Saint Mary's (22-12). Ford's basket in the lane after a few nifty moves got the Gaels within six points at 61-55 with 34 seconds left.

After Paschell missed a foul shot on the other end, Fitts cut the deficit to four points with a leaner in the lane. The Gaels had two more chances in the final seconds, but Fitts hit the rim on a 3-point attempt and Villanova freshman Saddiq Bey stole the ball from Ford in the final seconds to seal the win.

"We had a few games this year where we put the press on and were able to get back in the game," said Ford. "And if we get a few of those loose balls, or maybe make a three when we were down four, I think it's a different game."

Saint Mary's led 30-28 at the half, but Booth scored the first five points after intermission during a 12-3 run that put the Wildcats up 40-33. He had 12 points and five of his six assists in the second half.

"We weren't doing that bad, actually," Booth said. "It was more that they were playing very well and we were trying to match how they were bringing it. I think we just had to take it to another level, because they were playing at a high level."

Big picture

Villanova: The defending champions are in the tournament for the 14th time in 15 seasons and improved to 14-1 since 2016.

Saint Mary's: The Gaels are 4-6 in opening-round games in the NCAA Tournament and 5-10 overall. Saint Mary's has advanced to the Sweet 16 once in the modern era when it beat the Wildcats in 2010. There's a reminder of that run in the hallway outside the locker room that the players see as they walk out to practice each day in McKeon Pavilion.

Empty arena

The game tipped to a relatively empty arena, but it wasn't because nobody had bought tickets.

Fans of the Wildcats, many of whom made the 4-hour drive from Philadelphia to Hartford, Connecticut, were lined up along with Gaels fans behind metal detectors as security emptied the arena from the afternoon session.

"You worry about those things, you know?" Wright said. "We have a lot of guys in the NCAA Tournament for the first time thinking, `This is the NCAA Tournament?' There's no one in the stands."

By halftime, the 16,000-seat XL Center was nearing capacity, but some frustrated fans were sill filing in.

From distance

The game was billed as a battle between one of the nation's top 3-point shooting teams in Villanova against some of the nation's best perimeter defenders. In the end, the Wildcats finished 8 of 20 from behind the arc, while Saint Mary's was 8 of 22.

On the boards

The taller Gaels won the rebounding battle 33-29 and 10-5 on the offensive end. The Wildcats didn't have an offensive board until the second half and that led to an 11-4 advantage for Saint Mary's in second-chance points. Wright said this year's team was hurt by the transfer of 6-foot-9 Dylan Painter, but is going to have to find a way against taller opponents.

Up next

Villanova will play No. 3 seed Purdue in the second round Saturday.