PC freshman Alyn Breed drives for a score in the first half of loss at Villanova. (Photo: Villanova Athletics).
By KEVIN McNAMARA
Instead of the needed perfect game, the Providence College Friars could only put forth a quality start in their Big East games against Villanova Saturday.
Villanova shook off a shaky first half on offense and wore out PC in the second half to grab a 71-56 victory. The No. 3 ranked Wildcats out-scored the Friars 47-29 in the second half.
Justin Moore and Collin Gillespie scored 15 points apiece to lead four Villanova (10-1, 5-0 Big East) double figure scorers.
“We just weren’t as disciplined as we needed to be to beat a championship-caliber team on the road,” said PC coach Ed Cooley.
Asked to break down the tale of two halves, the coach said “I thought we did a great job in the first half. I liked our shot selection, I liked what we were doin defensively. In the second half a bunch of imposters showed up. I thought we were soft in the second half. We weren’t very connected offensively and it really showed up…very frustrating to see a 20 minute performance like that.”
PC lost for the third time in four straight road games and is now 8-7 overall and 4-5 in the Big East. David Duke (4-17 FG, 6 turnovers) was held to 10 points and Nate Watson had 12 on just 10 field goal attempts. Freshman Alyn Breed led the Friars with 18 points.
The Friars controlled the pace in an offensively challenged first half for both teams but a 27-24 score at the break was just what Cooley was looking for.
However once Villanova’s offense awoke from its 26% first half slumber, the Wildcats finally looked like a top five outfit in an impressive second half.
“They did a great job on us in the first half,” said Villanova’s Gillespie. “They’re a tough, physical team. In the second half it all started on the defensive end. Jeremiah (Robinson-Earl) did an amazing job on Watson and Justin (Moore) did a good job on Duke.”
The Friars first half effort peaked with Duke and Jimmy Nichols hitting 3-pointers in a 11-0 run that gave PC a 20-11 lead.
Villanova slowly crept back in it, and for what seems like the umpteenth time this season sometime bad hit the Friars at the halftime buzzer. This time it was ‘Nova’s Gillespie draining a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut PC’s lead to just 27-24.
“We just ran our press offense and Justin found me for a shot,” Gillespie said.
The start of the second half was delayed after a sharp ray of sunlight poking through a window in the upper reaches of the Pavilion couldn’t be dimmed. It took more than a half hour for ‘Nova to install a proper blind and close out the light.
When play finally began the Friars went up 29-24 but Villanova quickly answered with its best offensive stretch of the game. The result was a 15-4 run that featured a 3-point play after a dunk by Franklin, Mass. native Jermaine Samuels and then a 3-pointer from Portsmouth’s Cole Swider.
The 39-33 Wildcat lead was quickly cut to 39-38 after five PC points but Villanova called a quick timeout and promptly ripped off 11 straight point to grab complete control of the game, 50-38. A rash of turnovers – including three in a row from Duke – sabotaged PC’s attack.
Villanova kept rolling and before long the lead was at a healthy 62-45 with 5:12 left and it was time to start up the bus back to Rhode Island. The Wildcats shot 50 percent for the opening 15 minutes of the second half and out-scored PC, 38-18.
Alyn Breed – Frosh guard put up 18 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists.
David Duke – 10 points, 11 rebounds, 6 of PC’s 19 turnovers.
Nate Watson – 12 points, 5-10 shooting.
Collin Gillespie – 15 points
Justin Moore – 15 points
UP NEXT: PC returns home after a 4-game road trip to face Marquette Wednesday. Cooley said point guard Jared Bynum is “still struggling” with a groin injury but added “we need him back out there.”
Freshman Breed turned in his second strong game and will certainly merit major minutes at guard when Bynum returns. “That’s what playing time and opportunity does,” Cooley said of Breed. “He was the bright spot today, the big, big bright spot.”