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Villanova 63, Providence 61

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Updated 10 months ago on
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NEW YORK – Guard Ryan Arcidiacono’s two free throws with 3.1 seconds remaining gave No. 4 Villanova a thrilling 63-61 win over Providence in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament Friday at Madison Square Garden.

The Wildcats (31-2) will meet the winner of Georgetown-Xavier in the championship game on Saturday. This is Villanova’s first trip to the conference title game since 1997 when it lost to former member Boston College.

Arcidiacono was fouled driving the baseline after Providence scored five straight points to tie it at 61-61. The final basket came when Providence forward Ben Bentil (12 points, 10 rebounds) stole a Villanova inbounds pass and fed Kris Dunn for a layup with 12 seconds to play.

The Wildcats have won 14 straight since losing by 20 points at Georgetown on January 19th.

The game featured a matchup of the Big East’s Co-Players of the Year in Arcidiacono and Dunn, who led Providence (22-11), the defending tournament champs, with 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Villanova was led by reserve guard Josh Hart’s 18 points. Forward Daniel Ochefu collected 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Friars forward LaDontae Henton’s two free throws cut the defcit to 59-56. After a Darrun Hilliard jumper gave the Wildcats a 61-56 edge, Providence scored five points in a row.

A Dunn free throw sliced Villanova’s lead to 56-53 with 2:28 left and Bentil’s free throw made it 56-54. A deep 3-pointer from Hart spoiled the mini-run and put the Wildcats ahead 59-54 with 1:54 to go.

Providence was able to get to within four points on four occasions from the 8:18 mark until there was 2:59 to play. The Friars trailed by as many as 13 points early in the second half.

A 3-pointer from Bentil cut the Wildcats lead to 36-33. The Wildcats used an 11-1 run to forge ahead 47-34 with 13:40 left to play.

Hart and Hilliard scored 10 points each to help Villanova to a 33-28 halftime lead. Dunn scored for the Friars.

A 3-pointer from Dunn cut Villanova’s lead to 23-20, but the Wildcats roared back with an 8-0 run to increase their margin to 31-20 with just under four minutes left in the half. Hart contributed five of those points.

NOTES: Villanova recorded its second 30-win season in school history. The only other time the Wildcats won 30 was the 2008-09 season. … The Wildcats tied a program record with 17 3-pointers in the tournament quarterfinal win against Marquette. … Villanova also achieved the mark against Lehigh in 2005. It was the 14th time this season that the Wildcats drained 10 or more 3-pointers. … This was Villanova’s first appearance in the Big East Tournament semifinals since 2009 when it lost to Louisville. … The Friars had three players Fs LaDontae Henton and Ben Bentil and G Kris Dunn record a double-doubles in their quarterfinal victory over St. John’s. The last time that occurred in a Big East Tournament game was in 2009 during the six-overtime battle between Syracuse and Connecticut when Jeff Adrien, Stanley Robinson and Hasheem Thabeet did it for UConn.

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